Art gallery reopens in Herat after Taliban closure, but girls’ teaching restricted

The historic Behzad Art Gallery reopens in western Herat province after it was shut down by the Taliban’s morality police on Tuesday.

Mohammad Ebrahim Habibi, director of the gallery, had said that the gallery was closed down for teaching calligraphy to two girls—something Taliban views “un-Islamic.”

Habibi told KabulNow on Wednesday afternoon that the Taliban authorities have allowed the center to resume its activities on condition that it restricts teaching girls.

The Taliban has also forbidden depicting faces in artworks, he stated.

Habibi indicated that the bustling Behzad Art Gallery is one of the most prominent centers across the country operating for forty years. The gallery, he said, has significantly contributed to the field, including Islamic art.

This comes amid the Taliban’s widespread ban on girls’ education above sixth grade and on women attending universities, among a slew of other restrictions curtailing their basic rights and freedoms.

Two years after their seizure of power, the Taliban has imposed severe restrictions on art and banned music that was once flourishing across the country in the past two decades.  

Hundreds of artists have fled the country, fearing for their work and lives. While many have been relocated to the West, including Germany, France, and the United States, others are waiting for resettlement in third countries, mainly in Pakistan.