Afghan singer Aryana Sayeed
Afghan singer Aryana Sayeed performs during a concert organised by a youth organisation in KabulReuters

Despite opposition from conservatives and threats of an attack, Afghanistan's pop star Aryana Sayeed performed in the capital city of Kabul on Saturday (19 August).

The concert, which was initially scheduled to take place at Ghazi Stadium, held at Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul as the authorities said they could not guarantee security at that venue.

According to reports, hundreds of young men and women attended the Saturday show to mark the country's 98th Independence Day.

"Despite the threats, I didn't think such a big number of girls would attend here. Fortunately, the number of women is bigger than men," Bahar Sohaili, who attended the concert, said.

"We are here to defy those who were against the concert," some of the girls were quoted as saying by the BBC.

In the past few months, Afghanistan has witnessed a series of suicide attacks and explosions. The latest one was on the Mirza Olang village of Sar-e-Pul province in which 40 civilians lost their lives.

The victims mostly included Shia Muslims who were beheaded or shot dead by the assailants - believed to be Isis and Taliban fighters, according to local reports. Afghan military personnel were also killed but the casualty figure was not known.

Maryam Ataee, a participant of the show, said: "After the recent incident, this is to break the silence, to make the people laugh who witnessed and suffered deadly incidents in last two months."

"My message to our people is to accept each other," Halim, a resident of Kabul who attended the event, said while urging people to stay united.

Who is Aryana Sayeed and why is she seen as a threat to Afghan conservatism?

Sayeed, who is described by her fans as Afghanistan's Kim Kardashian, is known for her figure-hugging outfits and not a favourite of religious extremists.

The singer is based in the UK and is a controversial figure in Afghanistan because the lyrics of her songs highlight the rights of Afghan women and their plight. Sayeed also refuses to cover her hair, dances on stage and wears Western clothes, something termed as un-Islamic by a large part of Afghan society.

In the past also, she has received a number of death threats from those who think her clothes and public shows are disrespect to Afghan culture.

"There are certain people in Afghanistan who have been against music, against celebration, against even New Year, Eid and everything. I feel like today we need to stand together and fight against it," Sayeed said.

"At the end of the day, we are also human beings and these are basic human needs - music, celebration, Independence Day, New Year," the defiant singer said, adding that the profits of her show will go to the families of those killed by Islamist militants in the Mirza Olang village.