The Taliban has executed Afghanistan’s most famous singer. Fawad Andarabi, a national icon considered by some the country’s version of singer John Denver, was dragged from his home and shot in the head.
The murder comes after President Joe Biden pulled the last remaining U.S. troops from the country. The Taliban then announced a total ban on singing and the playing of music outside of private homes.
Andarabi was killed in the village of Andarab, north of Kabul, a region where parts of the population are rejecting Taliban rule, The Associated Press reported.
Andarabi played the ghichak, a bowed lute, and sang traditional songs about his birthplace, his people, and the country. His music has inspired Afghans for two decades and flourished under the U.S. presence in the country.
His son, Jawad, told AP that the singer was “shot in the head for no reason” at the family’s farm, just days after the Taliban had searched his home and drank tea with him.
“He was innocent, a singer who only was entertaining people,” Jawad, said. “They shot him in the head on the farm.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said his group would investigate the shooting but did not provide any further information.
Following Andarabi’s death, Afghanistan’s former Interior Minister Masoud Andarabi wrote on Twitter: “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.”
Meanwhile, United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, wrote on Twitter, “As UN Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, with Unesco Goodwill Ambassador on artistic freedom, I express grave concern about reports of the terrible killing of singer Fawad Andarabi.
“We call on governments to demand the Taliban respect the human rights of artists. We reiterate our plea for governments to find safe, effective ways for artists & cultural workers who need to do so to get out of Afghanistan, to grant them visas without delay, to allow their safe transit & to enable them to continue their work in exile.”
Mujahid told The New York Times on Wednesday that “music is forbidden in Islam” but that the group is “hoping that we can persuade people not to do such things, instead of pressuring them.”
Under the previous period of rule, the Taliban banned all music, apart from some religious chants, and having fun was punishable by death, The Guardian reported in 2001.
The organization destroyed all cassette tapes, and CDs, musical instruments, and singing were forbidden, while even captive songbirds, which were often found in marketplaces, were outlawed.
After the Taliban entered Kabul two weeks ago, they immediately destroyed an amusement park, but not before enjoying the bumper cars themselves.