Paradise Sorouri is no stranger to controversy. Originally born in Iran, Paradise is Afghanistan’s first female rapper, a remarkable honor that has attracted death threats and brutal physical assaults. According to the Guardian, Paradise was “forced to flee her country twice, received more death threats than she can count and was brutally beaten by 10 men on the street and left to die.”
Intrigued by her story, we decided to check in with her so that she can further explain who she is, her experiences and ultimately her music, which has attracted so much persecution, particularly in her home country of Afghanistan.
Paradise is a staunch believer in women’s rights, children’s rights, and spreading love all around the world. She founded her band, 143BandMusic, with her fiancé Diverse, both of whom were born in Iran. The two of them have been singing together since 2008. However, according to Paradise, her and her fiancé were forced to leave Iran to Herat, their mother-town in Western Afghanistan.
“There are two different regimes in both countries for sure,” Paradise told me. “In Iran, it’s ruled based on the Government and for sure freedom of speech and all manner of political activities such as singing, and so many other things are controlled directly by government.”
“However, in Afghanistan it is almost the same but there are some tribal and local rules as well. Mullahs have direct control of the district and neighborhoods as well.
“We also realized that people of Iran, those that they are seeking freedom are mostly in danger of government actions but in Afghanistan there are also people who will control the situation and govern other people and take matters into their own hands, too.” She added.
Paradise recalls that on one particular occasion in Afghanistan back in 2009 in Herat city, she was surrounded by ten men on motorcycles who began beating her with wooden rods. Onlookers urged them to kill her. This is precisely what she is referring to when she acknowledged that in Afghanistan, locals regularly take matters into their own hands based on what they perceive as being correct and moral behavior.
Paradise has no doubts that it is her music and lifestyle which has prompted some people in Afghanistan to act so violently towards her.
“Music is the Language that has no border; it can easily travel around the world. In a small community it will have a direct influence on the audience,” she says.
According to Paradise, music is a vital communication tool for reaching the hearts and minds of people, both young and old.