Afghan folk singer Fawad Andarabi was dragged from his home and killed by the Taliban in a restive mountain province north of Kabul on Friday, a local journalist told CNN, raising fears of a return to the militant group’s harsh rule of 20 years ago – including a clampdown on music.
His son, Jawad, told The Associated Press that the singer was “shot in the head” at the family’s farm in the Andarab Valley in the northern Baghlan province.
“He was innocent, a singer who only was entertaining people,” his son said. The AP was the first to report Fawad Andarabi’s death.
CNN has not independently confirmed the circumstances surrounding the singer’s killing, but Afghanistan’s former Minister of Interior Massoud Andarabi, who is also from the district for which the family is named, spoke publicly about his death.
“Taliban’s brutality continues in Andarab. Today they brutally killed folkloric singer, Fawad Andarabi who simply was bringing joy to this valley and its people. As he sang here “our beautiful valley … land of our forefathers …” will not submit to Taliban’s brutality,” he tweeted Saturday.
The killing has raised concerns about a return to the harsh form of rule the Taliban imposed when it was last in control of Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001. During that time, the Taliban banned most forms of music as un-Islamic.
In an interview with The New York Times Wednesday, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said “music is forbidden in Islam,” when asked if it would once again be banned in public in Afghanistan. He added that the Taliban hoped it could “persuade people not to do such things, instead of pressuring them.”
But the militant group’s previous intolerance for music without religious meaning has made rights advocates wary of renewed crackdowns on artists.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on cultural rights Karima Bennoune and UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassador on artistic freedom Deeyah Khan, have expressed “grave concern” over reports of Andarabi’s killing.
“As UN Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, (with) UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador on artistic freedom Deeyah Khan, I express grave concern about reports of the terrible killing of singer #FawadAndarabi. We call on governments to demand the Taliban respect the #humanrights of #artists,” Bennoune said on Twitter Saturday.
The Andarab Valley is located next to the Panjshir Valley, 90 miles north of Kabul, where sporadic fighting between the Taliban and an armed coalition of northern militias known as the Northern Alliance has been taking place since last week. Some recent fighting has also taken place in districts of the Andarab Valley.
Taliban commanders have told CNN that an agreement has been put in place to stop offensive actions; however, the Northern Alliance has not directly commented.