RFE/RL’s Afghan Service, Radio Azadi, has awarded this year’s title of “Person of the Year” to Ihsanullah Bayat, a telecommunications mogul whose company was among the first providers of telephone and Internet service to many remote parts of Afghanistan.
The "Person of the Year" award is selected and presented by Radio Azadi annually on the occasion of Norouz, the Persian New Year, and recognizes exceptional individual contributions to peace, democracy and culture in Afghanistan. Bayat was chosen by a committee of Radio Azadi journalists from among a number of other individuals nominated and proposed by civil society groups and listeners.
Previous winners include Ahmad Sarmast
, director and founder of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, former princess Hindia d'Afghanistan
, Afghan musician and UN Goodwill Ambassador Farhad Darya
, lawmaker Ramzan Bashardost
, physician and human rights activist Anarkali Honaryar
and the governor of Nangarhar province, Gul Agha Sherzai
Norouz coincides with the spring equinox and is observed in countries across the Middle East, South and Central Asia and the Caucasus. The variety of traditions associated with Norouz is as diverse as the countries that celebrate it, but it is generally a day for visiting friends and relatives, feasting, exchanging gifts, and well-wishing. The holiday is marked on the Persian calendar, according to which this year is 1393.