Afghanistan: Music stores have become a new target

6 September 2010
A string of music stores have become a new target for militants suspected to be Taliban enforcers — even in once-stable havens such as Jalalabad, reported Hashim Shukoor, a special correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, along with The Guardian’s correspondent Jon Boone.

In Jalalabad, roving enforcers have started targeting music stores in Afghanistan’s largest eastern city.

“The Taliban want to show their power and they think that they can be victorious over the army of 46 countries here in Afghanistan,” Vahid Mojdeh, an Afghan political analyst who served as a diplomat during the five years of the Taliban government, told Hashim Shukoor.

In the article, he told the story of a Jalalabad business owner, Zainuddin, who was on a trip in Pakistan when he got a late-night call: His music store had just been bombed. With little confidence that the Afghan government would step in to protect him, Zainuddin quickly transformed his music store into a cell phone shop.

‘Turn off the music’
On 5 August, the British newspaper The Guardian published an article by Jon Boone who reported about the situation in Jalalabad:

Speakers fixed to the wall of the last remaining music shop have been switched off for the last week, and the glass display shelves, which used to be a showcase for a collection of Pashtu, Indian and western music, are now empty.

“The bazaar owner told us to take it down and turn off the music,” said Ahmad Baryalai, a 25-year-old manning the store that has been selling music for eight years. “He was scared we’d get blown up.”

The landlord has good reason to be cautious. In early July a bomb was planted at street level, between the top of the stairs and a police box. That was just a warning shot. Far more damage was done to the nearby Millie Music store. The entire front of the shop was ripped off by a bomb that had been left in the middle of the night, presumably to avoid hurting a lot of bystanders.

Music: ‘Something acceptable’
Despite the threats, ordinary people continue listening to music. Some people think that it’s part of Afghan culture, Hashim Shukoor wrote in McClatchy.

“Music is not allowed in our religion but something acceptable in our culture,” said Abdul Majeed, a sunglass seller in Jalalabad. Azizullah, a money exchanger from Jalalabad city, says music is “like food for the soul,” and that time “does not pass without music”.

He said those who are threatening the music shops are either Taliban or Hezb-I-Islami, another opposition group led by former prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose fighters are mostly active in the eastern part of Afghanistan.


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McClatchy Newspapers – 3 September 2010:

‘Taliban tries to stop the music in Afghanistan – again’

The Guardian – 5 August 2010:

‘Intimidation and bombings silence Jalalabad’s thriving record stores’

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