New Delhi: “We want to build the future, and forget what happened in the past,” Taliban chief spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told The New York Times in an interview Wednesday.
The day before, he had told the women of Afghanistan to stay indoors, saying that might be safest for them because the Taliban fighters had not been trained yet to not mistreat women.
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In the interview, however, Mujahid rejected fears that the Taliban are going to bring back the same harsh controls, like what they had done while ruling the country two decades ago.
He tried to assure the local and international community that women would have the “freedom” to go to school, university, office, or hospital without a male guardian accompanying them, Afghans with valid travel documents won’t be stopped from entering the airport, and former interpreters and others who worked for the US in the past 20 years won’t be targetted.
However, despite trying to paint the current Taliban as a more tolerant version of its past self, Mujahid, the likely future minister of information and culture, confirmed one fear — music will not be allowed, at least in public.
“Music is forbidden in Islam,” he said in no unclear terms. But, he said, “we’re hoping that we can persuade people not to do such things, instead of pressuring them.”
Music Was Strictly Forbidden During Previous Taliban Rule
In the 1990s, when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, music was completely forbidden as they called it “sinful”. Let alone performing, people could not even listen to music, that too at home, without inviting trouble. Cassette tapes were reportedly ripped apart and strung from trees.
In 2008, the Taliban had abducted a group of six Afghan musicians for defying the ban on music, according to various media reports. One of the six was reported dead later.
In 2014, a suicide bomber blew himself up during a concert organised by the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), the country’s leading music school.
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While the institute continued to function even after the attack, in which two persons were killed and several others were injured, it shut its doors last week, days after Kabul fell to the Taliban, NPR reported.
ANIM opened in Kabul in 2010, with help from the World Bank and the National Association of Music Merchants, according to the report, which also said local boys and girls studied music and academics in the same classrooms at the institute.
Armed people entered the school property recently, NPR said, quoting Ahmad Sarmast, the founder and director of ANIM, who was injured in the 2014 blast.
Ever since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, local radio and TV stations are playing only Islamic songs, the Associated Press reported.