Taliban to forbid music in public again


The Taliban will ban music in public, their spokesman has said, because the movement considers it un-Islamic.

Afghanistan’s new rulers said they hoped to persuade people to abide by the new rule, rather than force them.

The stricture would be a return to one of the strict rules of the Taliban’s 1990s emirate, when most forms of music were banned, apart from religious chants.

The chief spokesman for the movement announced the new ban in an interview where he tried to stress that the movement had changed since its first government.

“Music is forbidden in Islam,” Zabiullah Mujahid told the New York Times, “but we’re hoping that we can persuade people not to do such things, instead of pressuring them.”

The Taliban permitted religious singing during their former government, but regarded other forms of music to be a distraction that could encourage impure thoughts. The sight of clumps of tape torn from confiscated music cassettes and hung from trees became one of the abiding images of their 1990s regime.

Radio and TV stations have stopped broadcasting music in recent days except for Islamic songs, but it had not been clear if this was because of Taliban orders, or self censorship to avoid potential problems with the insurgents.

The restriction on music came despite the movement saying it has moved on in the past 20 years and is intent on rebuilding Afghanistan.

“We want to build the future, and forget what happened in the past,” Mr. Mujahid said.

Many of the group’s most notorious former restrictions involved women, who were unable to leave the house without a male chaperone, and were unable to work. Girls were banned from education.

Earlier this week Mr. Mujahid said female government workers should remain at home until the Taliban had reimposed security, because its fighters were unused to dealing with women.

He said concerns that the Taliban would again force women to stay at home were baseless and that the requirement for a male chaperone was misunderstood.

“If they go to school, the office, university, or the hospital, they don’t need a [male guardian],” said Mr. Mujahid.

He also denied that Afghans with valid travel documents were being prevented from entering the airport.

“We said that people who don’t have proper documents aren’t allowed to go. They need passports and visas for the countries they’re going to, and then they can leave by air. If their documents are valid, then we’re not going to ask what they were doing before.”

He also denied allegations that the Taliban have been searching for former interpreters and others who worked for foreign militaries.

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