Afghan summer without music. And not only

Summer means holidays, holidays mean parties, parties mean music. During the summer months in Italy there is not a place where there would not be at least one moment of more or less organized entertainment; In both resorts and residential buildings, there is no square, small square, corner or park where an art event under the stars does not take place between May and September, or which would serve as a backdrop for some street artist.

However, this is not the case everywhere. And certainly not in Afghanistan, where the obscurantist Taliban regime banned all musical activity.. Hundreds of musical instruments were confiscated and set on fire by the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in late July to destroy items considered corrupt and immoral, causing the death of youth and the decline of society. photos of the fires are available online. For the Taliban, tools are tools of evil that are inconsistent with Islamic law. Dozens of Afghan musicians will be forced to flee to Pakistan and other neighboring countries to continue to carry out their professional activities and preserve the musical traditions of their places of origin.

Despite the considerable distance, the step between Afghanistan and Yemen is small, given that here, too, the Houthi rebels who control most of the country have decided to emulate the Kabul authorities by closing 14 stores in the capital Sana’a that sell CDs and DVDs.. The protests of the residents, forced to comply with the provisions of the regime, which does not allow behavior deviating from even a restrictive interpretation of Islamic law, did not bring any result.

However, in Egypt, the reasons that prompted the local music union to cancel the Travis Scott concert at the last moment at the request of the authorities are not of a religious nature., the hugely popular rapper, who immediately replaced a tour date scheduled at the Pyramids of Giza with a concert held in Rome at the Circus Maximus on August 7 last year, not without controversy, in front of 60,000 wild fans. “Afrocentrism” is the accusation made against the singer in a diatribe in which for some time the Egyptians criticized African Americans for having appropriated, in their opinion, the culture of ancient Egypt, violating tradition and morality. However, threats to freedom of musical expression are not limited to the Islamic world.

In late July, the High Court in Hong Kong rejected a request by the authorities to ban the song “Glory to Hong Kong”, which is often used as an anthem by thousands of demonstrators. who have been protesting in city squares against China’s extradition law in recent months. “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our time” – the verses of the song irritate censors, considering them as incitement to secession after the return of the former British colony to Beijing’s control in 1997. The song, however, has been erroneously used as the official anthem even at international sporting events in which Hong Kong participates as an administrative unit, still endowed, at least for the moment, with a statute of autonomy. The message is too dangerous, they thought in China, it is better to intervene. The attempt failed, which is good news. I am almost sure, however, that Beijing, unfortunately, will not let go and that sooner or later it will be able to suppress the unwanted notes of a regime that has absolutely no respect for civil liberties.

And also, on the subject of banned music this hot summer, it is worth mentioning the recent news that Moldova, without any explanation, prevented the entry of Goran Bregovic, who was supposed to perform at the guitar festival in Orhei, which caused a diplomatic incident with Belgrade.. There is no doubt that the Sarajevo artist’s controversial positions on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea are at odds with the tense situation that Moldovans experience on a daily basis under constant threat from Moscow, but this, of course, is not with bans that confirm good reasons. However, the musician moved the concert without any problems to neighboring Romania, where he will perform at a festival also funded by the EU.

Hard times for music and hard life for the musicians who own all our solidarity. “Music can change….,” Max Gazze sang a couple of years ago, “….. the world,” I add. The words in the notes sometimes frighten those in power more than the voices in the ballot box. Summer without music is not real summer.

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