‘Artists are now hated’: the heartbreaking stories of the Afghan musicians fleeing the Taliban

Fearing for their lives, musicians are crossing the border into Pakistan – but they need help, writes Bel Trew

Sunday 26 September 2021 16:29
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<p>‘Art is essential for culture and for life. All we want is to continue creating our music’ </p>

‘Art is essential for culture and for life. All we want is to continue creating our music’

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Twenty-five years ago, when the Taliban banned music and even owning a cassette tape could get you into trouble, Afghan folk singer Radwan*, now 57, would risk hefty jail sentences or worse, by holding secret underground concerts in private rooms.

When he could, he would escape to Peshawar, in northwest Pakistan, to do what he loved most: playing in public to large crowds. He was eventually able to do this openly in his own country after the Taliban were forced from power in the early 2000s.

Fast forward a quarter of a century after the Taliban takeover, Radwan has not been forced underground but out of his country entirely.

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