What does the return of the Taliban mean for Afghanistan’s musicians and cultural heritage?

Posted on: August 19, 2021

“Last time the Taliban ruled our land … as a consequence of the Taliban policies outlawing music, there was an exodus of musicians and performers, and total collapse of music education,” writes Ahmad Naser Sarmast in Thursday’s (8/19) Wall Street Journal (subscription required). After the Taliban government fell in 2001, “Afghanistan slowly began to rebuild…. I returned from Australia [and] founded the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in 2010.… Our school set out to celebrate … not only … Afghanistan’s own rich musical heritage, but also in those of India, Central Asia and Europe. While Afghan girls and young women were traditionally excluded from many musical disciplines, ANIM was glad to educate them…. In 2013, ANIM’s orchestra [appeared] at the Kennedy Center and … Carnegie Hall…. ANIM went on to [tour] Europe with its all-female orchestra, Zohra…. There is speculation that today’s Taliban has changed…. I ask the international community to join me in my heartfelt hope that things will be different this time around. I ask for us to work together to ensure that ANIM and other Afghan musicians will have … the freedom to continue to share their unique cultural heritage with music-lovers around the world.”