Frontline Musicians

by - 6:09 PM

March was a significant month for me at work in Kabul. A mere two days after International Women’s Day, a shocking announcement was made by the Afghan Ministry of Education: Girls over age 12 are banned from singing in school and performing songs or anthems in public and male teachers are forbidden to teach girls to sing.


I posted publicly on social media my thoughts:


“This is going backwards beyond backwards. Are we living in the same century as the people who are making this decree? What is their vision for Afghanistan’s future generation if they are stopping children and young people - girls and women especially - from the simple act of singing? A girl at 13 is still a child. A girl at 14, still a child. Only girls below 12 are allowed to sing? 


I can’t even believe that this question must be asked, but how can anyone truly stop anybody from singing? It’s madness. Beyond logic. It is stopping the rights of a child, a girl, a person with gifts and the breath of life, joy, freedom, creative energies. 


Can anyone truly stop anybody from the God-given right and gift of singing? I believe the answer is simple: They cannot.


On the surface these rules may be there to suppress and silence the young and free. But the only way forward is to keep singing. 


As long as I’m here, I’m alive, I will sing. 


Dear girls out there, know that you’re not alone. And you cannot be silenced.”


At my work in the music institute, the only music school in Afghanistan, we are what I call the ‘frontline musicians’ of the land. We have to publicly make our stand because we are often the only ones to do it. I have always told my students that they are the frontline musicians of Afghanistan. It is obvious that as the Taliban are gaining ground (over 60 percent of the country is taken over by them), and with the US troops leaving in the coming months, there are people in the ministry of education (and all other sectors of the divided Afghan government) who are preparing for the Taliban’s return and they want to make sure they keep their positions by making decrees such as this one.  


It is completely against human rights and the rights of a child (a girl especially). Our school became known for making a public statement to media outlets, and we even wrote a formal letter to the president’s office. We ended up starting a global campaign with the hashtag #IAmMySong, encouraging people to raise awareness and support our cause by posting a video of them singing any song or playing a piece of music with the hashtag.  


As I have been here the last three years, I see it is truly timely and God-planned that I have my final months here as things get worse and the Taliban’s return (or a full-on civil war) seems imminent. I always tell my friends who cover me from near and far, that the only way I can be here is that I fight the real enemy through my singing, my worship music, and prayer in the secret place. Wherever I am, I believe our hope is not in the government or even the people, our Hope is in Jesus. Therefore, even if the worst should happen and death or oppression consumes our reality, our hope will burn ever brighter. We will continue to reach broken and lost people in dire need of forgiveness, reconciliation, and resurrection power through a Saviour who died for them. 

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