With the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, almost all fields of art and culture are threatened with extinction in the country. Students and staff at the Afghan National Institute of Music (ANIM) face uncertain days after the Taliban recently announced they would ban music following their takeover of the country.
The once celebrated school gate now remains closed and its hallways have become silent.
The founder and director of the institute, Dr Ahman Sarmast, told the BBC that students are afraid to go to music school after the Taliban came to power. what they did, ”Sarmast said.
Some students even returned their instruments to school because they thought it was safer there rather than staying at home, where fighters from the Islamist group could fight them.
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The school, located in Kabul, was a popular institute that flourished for over a decade.
ANIM was unique in the country and trained boys and girls in the same room, a rarity in Islamic Afghanistan. The students learned Afghan and Western classical music.
Even orphans and street children were encouraged to attend, and many graduates were the first in their families to receive formal education.
The school also created Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra, Zohra, which in a short time gained large audiences across the world. Most of the group’s members are from an orphanage in Kabul and are between 13 and 20 years old.
In recent weeks, as the Taliban have taken control of the country, the orchestra, like the music school, has gone completely silent.
“This is a time of devastation of our dreams, of hope, of inspiration for the future,” said Dr Sarmast.
“The students are very scared of their future – not just their education and their (music) program, but also their life,” he said. “They don’t feel safe in Afghanistan.
While Dr Sarmast is stranded in Australia, his team have informed that the Taliban invaded the campus but did not damage it.
Dr Sarmast, well known as an educator throughout Afghanistan, was visiting family in Australia when the Taliban took control of Kabul. He revealed that the Taliban were looking for him and even pressured some of his staff to hand over the keys to the institute. The director insisted, however, that he would only speak to senior Taliban leaders.