Afghan musician Marzia Anwari from the Zohra orchestra rehearses forward of a live performance in Doha. Final week marked the primary time in three months that members of the Afghan music group who escaped to Qatar performed stay for an viewers – Copyright AFP/File Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

Anne Levasseur

For the primary time in months, members of Afghanistan’s all-female Zohra orchestra have reassembled in Doha, their music as soon as once more filling the air as they face an unsure future.

Whereas grateful to be secure in Qatar, their escape from Taliban rule is bittersweet, as the women go away behind pals from the orchestra and their “previous companions” — their devices. 

Final week marked the primary time in three months that Marzia Anwari, together with different members of the Afghan music group who escaped to Qatar, performed stay for an viewers.

“A lot of the ladies from the Zohra orchestra are right here with me in Qatar, however a few of them are nonetheless in Afghanistan,” the 18-year-old violist instructed AFP.

“I hope that they will be part of us right here as quickly as potential and we might be collectively and rebuild our orchestra.”

Zohra, Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra, was established in 2016. 

The group of 35 younger musicians aged 13-20, some orphans or from poor households, gave a culture-crossing efficiency on the 2017 World Financial Discussion board in Davos that overcame custom and dying threats of their homeland.

Now in exile, and with new devices, the musicians are hoping to maintain their cultural heritage alive after the Islamist hardliners seized energy in August.

– All the pieces is ‘haram’ –

Music was banned when the Taliban final dominated Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, and since their return, girls’s freedoms and schooling have once more been abruptly curtailed.

“In Afghanistan, they contemplate every part ‘haram’ (religiously forbidden) for girls, notably music,” Anwari stated.

It was tough to be a working musician even earlier than the takeover, she stated, with many conservative Afghans believing that ladies belong within the residence.

“Once we’d go exterior, folks would name us… ‘promiscuous’ and different such issues,” stated Anwari. 

The Taliban have been attempting to win backing and monetary help for his or her Islamist regime, promising a extra versatile rule than final time. 

However since they overthrew Afghanistan’s former US-backed authorities, highschool ladies have been blocked from returning to courses, whereas many ladies have been banned from returning to work.

Shogofa Safi, a percussionist and conductor of the Zohra orchestra, stated she was comfortable to be out of Afghanistan.

The 18-year-old instructed AFP of her harrowing escape, with Taliban militants manning Kabul airport earlier than her evacuation flight. 

“The scenario in Afghanistan was actually harmful and it was scary to go away,” she stated.

The Taliban “didn’t know we have been musicians”, she stated, including that “if that they had identified”, they might have killed them.

– ‘Past the borders’ –

Qatar is internet hosting about 100 college students and academics from the Afghanistan Nationwide Institute of Music (ANIM), which incorporates the Zohra orchestra, till they go away for Portugal.

Amongst them is Mohammed Qambar Nawshad, conductor of the Afghan nationwide orchestra, who stated he was comfortable to be making music once more.

“We haven’t been capable of play for at the least three months since they took Kabul. So it was an exquisite alternative, not only for me however for the complete group to carry out once more, to actually make their desires come true,” he stated.

Nawshad needed to go away his spouse and two youngsters behind, however hopes to be reunited with them quickly in Qatar or Portugal.  

“I like Qatar and I like the folks of Qatar… however I’ll by no means find it irresistible as a lot as I do Kabul,” he stated, combating again tears.

Whereas promising extra moderation, the Taliban have made clear that they’ll run Afghanistan in response to their interpretation of sharia legislation.

The motion’s place on music is inconsistent and no clear order has but been issued.

However after the Taliban’s final brutal crackdown on tradition within the Nineties, many musicians are actually in hiding and a few have deserted their devices. Music faculties stay closed.

Anwari stated she was delighted to be taking part in the viola once more in Qatar, however “heartbroken” for the lack of her previous instrument. 

“Even after I slept, it was proper above my head,” she stated.

Anwari, Safi and Nawshad all stated they might proceed to struggle for his or her homeland with their music, which ranges from conventional Afghan tunes to Western classical music. 

“We are going to maintain it alive, the wealthy cultural heritage of Afghanistan — and Afghanistan itself too, past the borders,” Nawshad stated.