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Afghan Community of Charlottesville celebrates 1 year anniversary and looks for space for a cemetery

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – February 1st marks one year since the Afghan population was officially recognized as a community in Charlottesville. Many celebrated the day at the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library while raising awareness about the need for a Muslim cemetery.

“There were a lot of people living before here, but they didn’t have that idea to make an Afghan community,” Rahimulla Nashit said,

Nashit has lived in Charlottesville since 2017. He says at first there wasn’t a reason for the Afghan community to be officially recognized.

“Because of the situation of the country, in my country back home, like the evacuation happened and a lot of people came. So now it’s a lot of people in this town. So it’s a big need for us,” Nashit said.

Now he estimates there are 600 Afghan families living in the Charlottesville area amounting to 7,000 people. As that number has grown a new need has grown with it – the need for a Muslim cemetery.

Leaders say it’s important so the community can exercise burial practices specific to Islam.

“A cemetery is the first major problem because recently we experienced with a lot of challenges when some of the Afghan members recently died,” Amid Danish said.

He says in the past year they have made progress in breaking down language barriers, teaching more people English while keeping their native language.

“We tried to help them by running some of the training programs in the library and in some other centers to teach them both English and also the native language so that they do not forget their native language,” Danish said.

Being an official community can help when requesting aid from the government.

“The first thing that they ask, are you guys registered as a community here in the state of Virginia – that’s how they recognize this,” Mohammad Nsaim Kakar, President of the Afghan Community of Charlottesville, said.

They played both the Afghan and American national anthem at the event to symbolize unity.

“We’re far away from our culture from Afghanistan to here and we are still keeping our culture and supporting each other,” Kakar said.

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