Taliban executes folk singer after announcing a public music ban in Afghanistan

31 August 2021, 14:47

Fawad Andarabi plays in Afghanistan
Fawad Andarabi plays in Afghanistan. Picture: Twitter / Masoud Andarabi

By Kyle Macdonald

An Afghan musician has been shot dead in the Baghlan province, after Taliban officials announced a ban on playing music in public.

Fawad Andarabi, a well-known folk singer, was killed in the Afghanistan village of Andarab, north of Kabul, according to multiple reports. He was said to have been dragged from his village home before being shot dead by the Taliban.

Afghanistan’s former interior minister Masoud Andarabi tweeted: “Taliban’s brutality continues in Andarab. Today they brutally killed folkloric singer, Fawad Andarabi who simply was bringing joy to this valley and its people.”

United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, posted online: “As UN Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, with Unesco Goodwill Ambassador on artistic freedom, I express grave concern about reports of the terrible killing of singer Fawad Andarabi.

“We call on governments to demand the Taliban respect the human rights of artists. We reiterate our plea for governments to find safe, effective ways for artists & cultural workers who need to do so to get out of Afghanistan.”

The Taliban has banned playing music in public. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told the New York Times in a recent interview that music is “un-Islamic”.

“Music is forbidden in Islam, but we’re hoping that we can persuade people not to do such things, instead of pressuring them,” he said.

Members of Zohra, Afghanistan’s all-female orchestra in May 2021
Members of Zohra, Afghanistan’s all-female orchestra in May 2021. Picture: Getty

20 years ago, when they were last in Afghanistan, the Taliban only permitted religious singing. Other forms of music-making were banned.

Celebrating weddings with dancing and music was banned by the Taliban from 1996 to 2001.

In recent media appearances, Taliban spokesmen are trying to give the impression that the group had changed its ways since its first government of the late 1990s, with more moderate positions on matters of culture and women’s education.

However, around the time the US and NATO forces are leaving Kabul, people are voicing deep fear for the safety of artists and the Taliban’s treatment of cultural artefacts and traditions in the country.

Andarabi played the ghichak, a bowed lute, and sang traditional songs about his birthplace, his people and Afghanistan.