Afghan musician fleeing Taliban shot dead by Iranian border police

Artists, musicians are having a difficult time under Afghanistan’s new leadership as folk singer reportedly killed last month as well

An Afghan musician who tried to flee the Afghan Taliban via the Iran border was reportedly shot dead by the Iranian police three days ago.

Activist Majeed Qarar tweeted that Rahimullah, a musician from Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province was threatened by the Taliban. Qarar claimed that Rahimullah tried to escape the Taliban by crossing the Iran border, but the Iranian border police shot and killed him. Qarar said that Rahimullah’s mortal remains were at a hospital in Herat.

Rahimullah wasn’t the only entertainer in Afghanistan who feared for his life after the conservative Taliban regime took over Kabul on August 15. Another singer, often dubbed Afghanistan’s Kim Kardashian, Aryana Sayeed, told the media last month that she would rather die than be captured by the Taliban.

Sayeed and her fiancé tried to board a plan out of Afghanistan the day Taliban walked into the presidential palace but were unable to leave when the plane did not take off. The following day, Sayeed disguised herself as a family woman with a child on her lap and managed to drive through Kabul to reach US officials who recognized her fiancé and allowed her to board the plane.

The fate of musicians under the Taliban has become an international concern. In August, multiple reports claimed that the Taliban had dragged Fawad Andarabi, a folk singer, out of his village and killed him in the Baghlan province of Afghanistan. Responding to the killing, United National Culture Rights Special Rapporteur Karima Bennoune called upon international governments to take note of cultural rights violations in Afghanistan. Bennoune insisted that artists and cultural workers were given a safe passage out of the country if they chose to leave.

The Taliban had banned music when they first rose to power in the 1990s and only religious chants were allowed in the public sphere. This time around the Taliban Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid has said that the group has turned over a new leaf. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Mujahid maintained that music was forbidden in Islam, but the group would adopt a more lenient stance instead of using force to dissuade artists from producing music.

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