Photo: Social Media

Taliban shuts historic art gallery in Herat province for teaching girls

Taliban’s morality police have shut down the historic Behzad Art Gallery in the western Herat province for teaching girls.

“The Taliban ordered us to close down the gallery because two girls were learning calligraphy at the center,”  Mohammad Ebrahim Habibi, director of the gallery, told reporters, adding that he himself was instructing the girls.

Jalil Ahmad Tawana, head of Herat’s calligraphy association, confirming the news said that the art gallery came to an abrupt halt on Tuesday at the behest of Taliban’s provincial office of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

Taliban authorities in Herat have not commented.

Habibi stated 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 closure 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.

In August, the Taliban also closed down a private radio and TV station in the eastern Nangarhar province for holding a training program that included women.