This is the sad situation in the Swat Valley, the newly Talibanised area of northwestern Pakistan.
“Musical expressions are completely banned and ruthlessly discouraged,” says Fremuse.org, which continues:
The few singers and musicians who remain in the area have shunned their music business and publically [sic] announced that from now onwards they will never indulge in the “un-Islamic” practice of singing. Taliban threats have forced popular singers such as Nazia Iqbal, Gulrez Tabbasum, Gulzar Alam and Shehensha Bacha to publically denounce music and join “Tablighi Jumat”, an Islamic movement that spreads Islamic teachings in different parts of Pakistan and internationally.
How sad! How utterly sad that people are allowing themselves to be swamped by this evil!
The estimated 500 music shops that earlier sold music CDs of all types have been either bombed or looted, and the owners were threatened of dire consequences if they violated Taliban code of morality.
At the same time, CDs and DVDs showing Taliban style “justice” are available in every nook and corner of the district. “People who earlier dealt in music CDs and videos are now selling Jihadi CDs,” says Sher Ali Shah, an NGO [nongovernmental organisation] worker in Mingora.
What a thoroughly sad part of the world to have to live in! Music hath charms, and all that. It’s been part of the human experience since there has been human experience.
But that’s not all. The website story – which talks of a valley “famous for its idyllic beauty, serene environment and centuries[-]old musical heritage” – goes on:
On 19 April, while addressing a large gathering, Maulana Sufi Muhammad, chief of the banned Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (Movement for the enforcement of Muhammadan Law) said that after 20 years of struggle his movement had succeeded to implement pure Islamic law in Malakand.
“Now we will focus on other areas and will bring every sphere of life under the injunctions of Islam,” he maintained. In Maulana Sufi Muhammad’s interpretation of Islam, music is strictly prohibited and source of all sins, and it is expected that the Taliban will now further intensify their campaign against music and singers.
Transforming cultural values
“They want to transform local cultural values. The future is bleak for singers and music lovers,” said Zafar Yousafzai, a political analyst based in Islamabad, adding that music has now died in the Swat valley which was once a valley of music, melodies and dances and a great seat of learning in liberal arts.
The capacity that some people have for making the lives of others supremely miserable in the name of religion never ceases to amaze.