Taleban cracks down on music...
- "Taleban cracks down on music as well"
(Source: Reuters - Wednesday May 2, 2001)
LONDON - Afghanistan's ruling Taleban movement, which has already banned
dancing, singing and television as being anti-Islamic, is also cracking down
Musicians are being detained and their instruments destroyed.
British musicologist John Bailey gave details on Monday of a report on music
censorship in Afghanistan and said the assault on music was a tragedy that
the world should condemn.
The musicologist, who has spent almost 30 years studying Afghan music, said
the only musical activity now permitted in the impoverished Asian land was
singing religious songs and Taleban "chants".
He said: "To most people, music means the use of musical instruments and the
Taleban has banned musical instruments."
Those caught in possession of musical instrument are imprisoned, fined or
even beaten and their instruments are destroyed.
"They often have bon-fires of confiscated instruments.
The lives of professional musicians have been completely disrupted, and most
have had to go into exile for their economic survival.
The continuation of these rich musical traditions is also under threat."
The crackdown on music is in addition to the fundamentalist Islamic
movement's destruction last month of centuries-old Buddhist statues, which
provoked world outrage.
In a report for Freemuse, the world forum on music and censorship, Mr Bailey
warned that the country's rich musical traditions were being threatened by
the increasingly harsh rule of the Taleban, which also exerts its authority
among refugees in neighbouring countries like Pakistan.
"Most professional musicians have fled, so they keep the traditions alive in
neighbouring countries for now.
But we note a crackdown by Taleban inside countries like Pakistan," he said.
Mr Bailey, a professor at London University's Goldsmiths College, says the
censorship of music actually began in 1978, when the communist government of
Nur Ahmad Taraki came to power in a violent coup.
During 14 years of communist rule, music was heavily controlled by the
Information and Culture Ministry, while in refugee camps in Pakistan and
Iran all music was prohibited in order to maintain a continual state of
"The roots of the Taleban ban on music lie in the way these caps were run,"
Mr Bailey said.
The Taleban, which seized Kabul in 1996 and now rules more than 90 percent
of Afghanistan, has policies considered harsh by most countries.
These include banning women from education and most work and forcing them to
wear the 'burqa' robe whenever they go outside their homes.
"Being a great believer in the power of music, I believe that it is very
unfortunate that the people of Afghanistan cannot enjoy the simple pleasures
to make their days a little more enjoyable," Mr Bailey said.
Ian Stonehouse (Studio Manager)
Electronic Music Studio , Music Dept.
New Cross, London SE14 6NW
tel: +44 (0)20 7919 7643 (direct line+ansafone)
+44 (0)20 7919 7640 (Music Dept office)
fax: +44 (0)20 7919 7644
EMS Homepage : http://homepages.gold.ac.uk/ems/
Personal Homepage: http://homepages.gold.ac.uk/ianstonehouse/