Photo: Social Media

Editorial: The Taliban’s music ban has silenced the soul of Afghanistan’s arts and culture

If you were to visit Afghanistan the last time the Taliban ruled, you would be greeted by flag poles at checkpoints displaying cassette tapes and smashed television sets. And if you visit this time round, you’d face the group’s morality police inspecting your car’s stereo for music. And the party or gathering you attend would be gatecrashed by the group’s agents to ensure it remained music-free. 

The group banned music soon after arriving in Kabul in August 2021. Afghanistan’s once flourishing music industry went into abrupt silence. With the group’s long-time spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, declaring that “music is forbidden in Islam”. 

Last week, the group’s burning of piles of musical instruments in Kabul and Herat attracted widespread attention from the world’s media. The Taliban, just like every extremist group, has a keen eye for theatrics. 

Music has always been an integral part of human history, transcending borders and cultures, connecting hearts, and expressing emotions beyond the limitations of language. 

| The everlasting dominance of Ahmad Zahir on Afghanistan’s music

The harmonious tunes of Afghanistan’s diverse music, coupled with its rich languages, have provided solace and strength to a nation that has endured endless strife and conflict. It has acted as a testament to resilience and hope, showcasing the undying spirit of the long suffering people.

The Taliban’s decision to ban music and destroy musical instruments is not only a brutal violation of artistic freedom but also a deliberate attempt to control minds and eradicate any semblance of joy and individuality. 

History is rife with examples of tyrants who tried to crush the human spirit by stifling creative expression, but they have all failed, as art has always found a way to rise from the ashes of repression.

Beyond its cultural significance, music plays an essential role in the emotional and mental well-being of individuals. It has been scientifically proven that music has therapeutic effects, offering comfort, healing, and a means of coping with trauma. By depriving Afghanistan’s citizens of the power of music, the Taliban is adding an extra layer of suffering to a nation that has already suffered immensely.

Furthermore, the Taliban’s imposition of such draconian measures not only isolates Afghanistan from the rest of the world but also serves to highlight their regressive ideology, which stands in stark contrast to the principles of tolerance and inclusivity. In an era where societies are striving for progress and unity, the Taliban’s actions serve as a grim reminder of the darker aspects of human nature.

The international community must not remain silent spectators in the face of this cultural annihilation. 

Afghanistan’s artists and musicians, many of whom have fled the country, deserve solidarity and support in their struggle against the Taliban’s onslaught. We must create platforms for their voices to be heard, sharing their stories and their art with the world. By preserving and promoting Afghan music, we can thwart the Taliban’s efforts to silence the soul of a nation.

The Taliban’s ban on music and the destruction of musical instruments is not merely an attack on a form of artistic expression but an attack on the very essence of human dignity. It is an assault on our shared humanity, a grim reminder that freedom and creativity are not guaranteed. Let us stand united against this dark symphony of repression and vow to uphold the timeless melody of liberty, creativity, and hope.