The murder of an Afghan folk singer by Taliban members on Friday (27) has heightened fears that the fundamentalist group will replicate in the country the same practices it forcibly implemented when it first came to power from 1996 to 2001—including , the ban on traditional songs.
Fawad Andarabi, a well-known musician in the Andarabi Valley, located in the mountainous region of Panjshir, where a nucleus of resistance against the Taliban resides, was dragged out of his home by fighters and shot dead. The information was initially confirmed by the Associated Press agency.
The musician’s family said the group shot Fawad a few days after they searched his house and drank tea with him. “He was an innocent, a singer who was just entertaining people,” his son, Jawad, told the AP. “They shot him in the head.”
Former Afghan Interior Minister Masud Andarabi, who is from the same region as the musician, also confirmed the case on a social network. “Taliban brutality continues in Andarabi. They killed Fawad Andarabi, who was just bringing joy to this valley and its people,” he wrote. “As he sang, ‘our beautiful valley, the land of our ancestors’ will not submit to Taliban brutality.”
In a video, it is possible to see Fawad playing and singing surrounded by other people in the region surrounded by mountains. The Afghan played ghichak, a type of lute, and hummed traditional songs about his place and its people. Folklore is one of the main types of regional music in Afghanistan.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the group would investigate the killing, but gave no further details. The violent episode, however, amplified the signs of the type of rules that the fundamentalist group can impose and the disbelief in the attempts to impose a supposed moderation.
Last week, in an interview with The New York Times, Mujahid denied that the faction is pursuing opponents, women and Afghans who have collaborated with US troops over the two decades they have remained in the country. But he set a goal: the music will not be allowed in public.
“Music is prohibited in Islam,” he said. “But we hope we can persuade people not to do these things, rather than pressuring them.” In the 1990s, the Taliban allowed religious singing but banned other types of music, seen as distractions from Islamic studies and which could encourage impure behavior. Taliban officials even destroyed instruments and broke tapes.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, Karima Bennoune, said she was deeply concerned about Fawad’s murder. Even before the episode, she had been warning of what she calls a possible “cultural disaster” in Afghanistan after the Taliban took power on the 15th.
“It is deplorable that the world has left Afghanistan with a fundamentalist group like the Taliban, whose catastrophic human rights record, including the practice of gender apartheid, the use of cruel punishments and the systematic destruction of cultural heritage, is well documented” , he said.
The first period in which the group was in power, more than 20 years ago, is remembered, among other things, for the destruction of the Afghan cultural heritage, something that is feared to repeat now. Persecuted, many artisans took refuge in countries like Pakistan and Iran.
As part of an uncredited attempt to demonstrate tolerance, the Taliban also announced on Sunday that it will allow women to attend universities — provided they are separated from men. The change in attitude is viewed with skepticism and contradicted by reports from Afghan students.
The fundamentalist group regained power after the beginning of the withdrawal of American troops from the country, a process that was concluded this Monday (30). In addition to fears of Taliban violence, Afghans also fear possible attacks by Islamic State, which has an Afghan branch, the EI-K. The terrorist group, opposed to the Taliban, carried out an attack that left more than 180 people dead in the last week.