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Afghans artists bury paintings, hide books out of fear of a Taliban crackdown on arts and culture

WebdeskOct 01, 2021, 10:30 AM IST

Afghans artists bury paintings, hide books out of fear of a Taliban crackdown on arts and culture

Various artists have destroyed their paintings or sculptures, stores selling musical instruments have shuttered, as have many art galleries and many wedding halls cancel live music not to anger the Taliban.
           

Kabul: Driven by the memories of the Taliban, Afghan artists have been finding difficulties in practising their art as the outfit opposes the idea of westernisation in the strife-torn country.

According to the international media outlet, many artists have buried 15 paintings depicting women in their modern artwork in a compound day after the outfit entered the capital city Kabul.

Citing various similar examples, The Washington Post reported that a well-known filmmaker has tucked away a large hard drive with over 20 films in a secret location before she fled the war-ravaged country.

While a bookseller in his sidewalk shop concealed every book, the Taliban considers damning, including two Bibles translated into Dari and Pashto.

"If the Taliban fighters find this, they will punish me," the bookseller said, reported The Washington Post.

During the past 20 years, Western presence ushered in a flowering of arts, film, music, and books, helping to transform Kabul into a cosmopolitan metropolis. A new generation of artists was influenced as much by Afghan traditions and history as by modern themes such as the war, Western music, women's rights and oppression under the Taliban.

"The kind of art that we believe has a value means artists should be free to express their own thoughts, not under dictatorship or censorship," said Sahraa Karimi, the filmmaker. "Those artists will not easily be able to work as freely as they used to. And they were so free."

Even as some artists take great risks to protect their creations, many have fled the country, while others are self-censoring to avoid the wrath of the Taliban, the international media outlet said.

Various artists have destroyed their paintings or sculptures. Stores selling musical instruments have shuttered, as have many art galleries. Many wedding halls cancel live music not to anger the Taliban, and wedding bands and singers have stopped working. Afghan filmmaking, at the moment, is dead.

"The Taliban has not issued any statements regarding the arts," said Safiullah Habibi, the director of Kabul's Fine Arts Institute, a government facility. "But the artists themselves are limiting themselves. They think the Taliban will repeat what happened in the 1990s. At that time, the arts had no place in their rule."

Bilal Karimi, the Taliban deputy spokesperson, said the interim government is new and is still "making a framework" for all issues concerning arts and culture. But he said that whether a form of art is "permissible or prohibited" will be governed by Islamic law or Sharia.

Earlier this week, the Taliban's Ministry of Justice said that the Constitution from King Zahir Shah's era would be enforced for an interim period. However, TOLO News sources said that the decision is not final yet.

Older generations remember the ultraconservative Islamic regime that saw regular stoning, amputations, and public executions during Taliban rule before the US-led invasion that followed the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Under the Taliban, which ruled in accordance with a harsh interpretation of Islamic law, women were largely confined to their homes.

Courtesy: ANI

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