‘The soul of Kabul’: Taliban paint over murals with victory slogans

The Taliban have started replacing murals on Kabul’s streets with paintings of their flags and Islamic slogans as the new rulers continued to reimpose their austere vision on アフガニスタン.

The murals addressed everything from the killing of George Floyd in the US and the drowning of Afghan refugees in Iran, to the signing of the US-Taliban agreement towards peace and murder of a Japanese aid worker.

“Artlords”, a group of creatives, painted the murals on walls and blast barriers, spending eight years transforming swathes of Kabul until the Taliban marched in.
One mural in central Kabul was dedicated to a Japanese doctor and aid worker who was killed in 2019.

His portrait has been replaced by a slogan congratulating the nation for their “victory”, referring to the Taliban takeover of the country.

Omaid Sharifi, the art group’s co-founder, said that even though the mural on the concrete wall had been painted over, the memories of Tetsu Nakamura would not be erased.

“All of the murals are an extension of me, extension of Artlords and extension of the artists who worked on them,” Sharifi told the Guardian. “Some of these murals were the soul of Kabul. They gave beauty to the city and kindness to the people of Kabul who were suffering.”

Artlords’ members braved death threats and were branded infidels by Islamist extremists but remained unrepentant and kept painting.

の朝に 15 8月, with the Taliban at the gates of Kabul, Sharifi and five of his colleagues went to work on a mural outside a government building.

“Whenever I see one of them destroyed, I feel like a part of me is getting destroyed and punished as well," 彼は言った. “These murals not only belong to me or the Artlords, they belong to the people of Afghanistan because for each of them we invited 50 に 200 people to paint them.

“These are about the wishes, demands and the asks of Afghan people. It was their voice on these walls. These murals were against corruption and were pushing for transparency.”

Sharifi believes the Taliban are trying to silence people by destroying the murals with their comments on social issues.

“Our aim was to promote critical thinking and put pressure on the government to accept people’s demands,” Sharifi said. “Taliban was and is an armed movement that only understands guns, 暴力, beating, beheading, suicide vests and bombs. There is no vocabulary about art in the Taliban’s dictionary. They even cannot imagine art. I think they don’t understand it, that’s why they are destroying it.”

Among the other erased murals was one showing the US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar shaking hands after signing the 2020 deal to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan.

It has been replaced by a quote saying the Taliban are the “true defenders” of the country. A mural at the former US embassy in Kabul has been covered with a huge painting of the Taliban flag.

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