Is This the End of Afghanistan’s Music Scene…Again?
As Afghanistan finds itself back in the hands of the Taliban, musicians recall the last time the group were in power and how music was banned outright.
Since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan, the world has been watching and wondering, will Afghan’s retain their freedoms or will things go back to how they were twenty years ago?
The Associated Press spoke with several musicians recently, and they each expressed dismay over what they see as the end of an era that had allowed them greater freedoms. They spoke under the condition their identity was not revealed, fearing what the Taliban might do in retaliation.
“Musicians do not belong here anymore. We must leave. The love and affection of the last years are gone”.
This isn’t the first time Afghan musicians have felt pressure to leave their country.
Following what is considered the golden age of Afghan music between the 1950–1970s, Afghanistan was invaded by the Soviets and musicians began immigrating to neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Iran, and as far off as France and North America. Their music was preserved on compilations like 1977’s Tea House Music Of Afghanistan.
Things only got worse when the Taliban took power in 1996 and banned all music. This period led to punishment — not just for musicians, but even those caught listening to it — and once again musicians and their families fled.
After the Taliban were removed from power in 2001, music returned and groups such as District Unknown and Kabul Dreams gained international recognition for bringing rock to Afghanistan. On the back of their success, Kabul Dreams toured the world, but would eventually be forced to leave Afghanistan permanently after receiving continual death threats from extremist groups.