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Violence in Afghanistan: ‘Any woman who can bring change is a target’

The activist recently found his name on a Taliban death list circulating on social media. She doesn’t know if the list is real, but it’s a shock. “Any woman is educated, a potential goal that can bring hope and change. They want to rob us of the ideal we have – an Afghanistan where everyone is equal.”

The Taliban refuse to do anything with the attacks, and the Afghan government and the United States blame the group for the recent wave of violence. Investigations and inquiries often fail to function.

‘Talibanization’ of education

The Afghan government is increasingly trying to impose restrictions on women, Akbar says. “We are at odds not only with the Taliban but also with our own government.” Last week, the Afghan Ministry of Education banned girls from singing from the age of 12.

According to Ahmed Sarmast, founder of the National Institute of Music in Kabul, this may be an attempt to “Talibanize” the education system. Sarmast points out that music and women’s education were banned when the Taliban were in power. He was wounded in an attack by the Taliban in 2014. A suicide bomber blew himself up behind him during a rally in Kabul.

“The song ban clearly shows that some politicians within the Afghan government are trying to pave the way for the Taliban,” Sarmast said. “Since the peace talks, there have been a lot of changes politically. Some people want to see Taliban rule in government and try to get a place for themselves if there is an agreement. So the Afghan community is ready to step back if they see this blockade as a test.”

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But the Afghans certainly are not. Women activists – and basically anyone who opposes the hardline-Islamic Taliban – were largely insurgent through an online anti-campaign launched by Sharmast. Under the hashtag #IamMSong, women and girls posted videos of themselves singing their favorite songs on social media.