12 May, 2015. 14:06
ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
THE FIVE FINALISTS of the inaugural “best dressed freedom fighter” have been announced at a gala event overnight in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
The celebration of conflict fashion was hosted by the International Freedom Fighters’ Guild (IFFG), which is also classified as a terrorist organisation by the United States.
Judges whittled down over 200 entrants to arrive at the final five, that sees some of the world’s most downtrodden and hostile insurgent groups represented for the first time.
IFFG President Mushtaq al-Zurbak says that the awards ceremony provides an opportunity for all the hard work done by freedom fighters around the world to be recognised.
“Some of these insurgents have fought against oppressive governments for decades,” says al-Zurbak.
“Others have been lucky enough to escape capture by fascist western authorities,”
“This isn’t just a celebration of wartime fashion, it’s a display of creativity.”
35. Grozny, Chechnya.
This 35-year-old warhorse has been fighting Russian tyranny since he was just a small boy. When he was just entering high school, Bilyal become enchanted with UK-based fashion house, Burberry – a love that would last him a lifetime.
“I found this coat on a photojournalist,”
“There is very cold winters in Chechnya and the reporter didn’t need this coat because he was dead already,”
“This whole thing is stupid. A coat is just a coat. Can we talk about what Putin is doing to my people?”
Mr Arishedze said he plans to return home to Chechnya after a short holiday in Saudi Arabia where he hopes to “buy a few things” to aid the revolution.
44. Kitgum, Uganda.
There’s only one thing that’s got Fred Kanyeihamba more excited than Tame Impala’s upcoming album Currents – and that’s freedom from religious persecution from his government.
Although a newcomer to the world of freedom fighting, this bubbly 44-year-old says he likes to turn heads on the battlefield with his bold fashion tastes.
“People are more interested and shocked by my intriguing fashion than my disturbing insensitivity to gruesome violence,”
“What can I say? Blood comes out of cotton easily if you use hot water and name brand detergent,”
“Polyester blends don’t breathe as well as pure cotton, so I love brands like Target Country and Espirit.”
Fred hopes he wins so he can have the opportunity to highlight the genocide of his minority.
17. Hmaze Abad, Iran.
As the youngest finalist, it’s odd that child soldier Amira Qenco has almost no presence on social media.
The happy-go-lucky Sagittarius says she’s too preoccupied to maintain Snapchat and Facebook accounts, stating there’s more important things in her life such as protecting her homeland and people from terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda and tending to her flock of goats.
“I’m happy not having those things in my life,” said the Iranian national.
“These days I’m just happy to be alive,”
“Life is much more wholesome when you don’t spend most of it fussing about what other people think of you,”
“The constant reminder of how fragile life is actually quite humbling in a way.”
Amira and some of her friends where featured recently on 60 Minutes with Tara Brown – who refused to take her bulletproof vest off until she arrived back in Dubai.
26. Melbourne, Australia.
Australians leaving to fight in Syria have received a lot of negative press recently. As most of them have left to fight with the now infamous ISIS death cult – but this patriotic Syrian blooded fighter left years ago to join the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
As the FSA is now unofficially backed by the United States, he’s likely to be able to return home to his Fitzroy home one day.
“I came here to fight because Assad murdered half my family,” said the 26-year-old.
“Not because I was disenfranchised with the Australian way of life or because I want to fight for my God,”
“I’m hear to kill Assad and his loyalist dogs. Go Bombers!”
Once the tyrannical Assad regime has been defeated, Shalhoud plans to open up a supplement shop with his cousin, Hazmat.
31. Misrata, Libya.
Last but not least is a charismatic 31-year-old arms dealer from the gorgeous Libyan seaside village of Misrata.
After completing a degree in economics at a prestigious British university, Azeem returned home to work for Muammar Gaddafi as a private financial advisor.
Having left the world of finance just prior to the 2011 Libyan Civil War, Mr Yousuf found himself unemployed and on the run.
“I had all these skills but nobody to employ me. All my old friends from the Gaddafi days where now either in hiding or hanging from street lamps,”
“Having done a few backdoor arms deals in the past, I though it was a perfect role for me to fall in to,”
“Turns out it’s been pretty lucrative. I live in a nice, western city at the moment and everybody thinks I’m a Saudi oil baron – same thing really.”