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Afghanistan: Popular Singer Nasrat Parsa Killed In Canada

Prague, 10 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Combining modern dance beats with traditional melodies, 36-year-old Nasrat Parsa was one of Afghanistan's most popular singers, especially among youth. Parsa left Kabul as a 12-year-old prodigy. He went on to study music in India before settling down in Germany. Parsa, who had only recently released his 10th compact disc, died yesterday after being attacked following a concert in Vancouver, Canada.

"I would like to say that art, literature, and music have a profound effect on all without any recognition of boundaries."

Those are Nasrat Parsa's own words, posted on his website.
"I would like to say that art, literature, and music have a profound effect on all without any recognition of boundaries."

Parsa, a globetrotting Afghan musician from a family of artists, had a profound effect on his countrymen from early on.

Twenty-nine years ago, at the age of seven, Parsa was discovered during a New Year's celebration in Radio Kabul. During the live show he performed two famous hits by his idol, Ahmad Zahir.

Zahir, whom Parsa has described as the greatest Afghan artist ever, was so impressed that he helped Parsa launch his career.

Since 1989, Parsa has toured the world over, releasing 10 compact discs, the most recent being "Dil," a collection of soft melodies released last fall.

One of Afghanistan's most popular recording artists, Parsa combined Western dance beats with traditional South Asian melodies. The singer was in Vancouver on 8 May as part of a month-long tour of Canada.

Police said Parsa died after being swarmed on the street outside his hotel following a performance in downtown Vancouver.

Tim Fanning of the Vancouver police spoke to reporters yesterday: "He had been approached by three male suspects, one punched him and he fell down some stairs hitting his head. He was rushed to hospital and was pronounced dead."

Parsa's official website said he had suffered from internal brain bleeding.

Police said a 19-year-old suspect was arrested for assault. The charge against him is expected to be manslaughter. A second suspect was also apprehended.

The motive for the attack was not immediately known. Reports said the three men had been present in the hall during Parsa's concert and had been drinking alcohol.

Parsa's two brothers, Najib and Ahsan Parsa, witnessed the attack.

Najib Parsa told AFP that at the concert, the three men had become angry when Parsa, who was playing soft music for Mothers' Day, rejected their request to play more dance tunes: "It wasn't a big reason to be upset. But they followed us to the hotel and attacked him. He was standing at the top of concrete and stone stairs. It was like a prepared plan. He fell backward and hit his head."

Parsa left with his family for Pakistan when he was 12. They later moved to India, where he attended music school and took lessons. In Germany, he became a student of Ghulam Ali Khan, who has been called "the Mount Everest" of Indian and Pakistani music.

On his website (, clips of Parsa's latest album can be heard -- along with samples of his earliest recordings on Radio Kabul.