Before being received in Portugal, the Afghan Women’s Orchestra returned to play live in Qatar – Observador
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AN Afghan women’s orchestra Zohra returned to play live this Monday, before an audience, for the first time in months. Not Kabul, but in Doha, in the capital of Qatar. The takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, most members of the musical group decided to leave the country. “If they knew we were songs they would have killed us”, 18-year-old conductor Shogofa Safi confesses to AFP.
Most of the girls belonging to the orchestra, who are between 13 and 20 years old, are happy to be close to their “old companions”, that is, the instruments. After leaving Qatar they should be welcomed in Portugal, with the support of the Portuguese Government.
Even so, a bittersweet feeling prevails. “I love Qatar and I love the people of Qatar, but I will never love it as much as I love Kabul.” confides Mohammed Qambar Nawshad, conductor who is part of the National Orchestra of Afghanistan, to which the Zohra women’s orchestra belongs.
With the arrival of the Taliban, the female orchestra fell silent and beyond: “If things continue like this, there will be no music in Afghanistan”
The conductor also says that it was “a wonderful opportunity” to play in Qatar again, contributing that it is positive for “the whole community” to continue to make “the dreams” of young people come true. “We will ensure that Afghanistan’s cultural heritage lives on.”
As instrumentalists they also report that an Afghan woman who dedicates herself to music is not well regarded by extremists, who claim that this goes against the religious laws of sharia. “They consider everything ‘haram’ [palavra que significa ‘proibido’ à luz da sharia] for women, particularly music,” says 18-year-old violinist Marzia Anwari, who also says that the Taliban nicknamed them the “Promiscuous” just for playing music.
Portugal will receive more than a hundred young artists from Afghanistan
About 100 Afghan musicians left their home country in early October. Shogofa Safi stresses that “the situation in Afghanistan is very dangerous” and that “It was a lot of talk to leave the country”.
Some young women from the Zohra Orchestra became known in Afghanistan and their colleagues’ desire is for them to be able to leave the country quickly. “I hope they can join us as soon as possible and we can rebuild our orchestra”, says Marzia Anwari.
Since 2010, the National Orchestra of Afghanistan has been a reference in the fight for gender equality in the country, supporting the education of girls and having created its own all-female orchestra in 2015 – the Zohra – which even performed once worldwide and play at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.