“Like many teenagers, 19-year-old Negin Khpalwak from Kunar in eastern Afghanistan loves music, but few people of her age have battled as fiercely to pursue their passion in the face of family hostility and threats,” writes Mirwais Harooni on Monday (4/18) at Reuters.com. “Playing instruments was banned outright during the period of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and even today, many conservative Muslims frown on most forms of music…. ‘Apart from my father, everybody in the family is against it,’ she said.… Now living in an orphanage in the Afghan capital of Kabul, Negin leads the Zohra orchestra, an ensemble of 35 women at the Afghanistan National Institute for Music that plays both Western and Afghan musical instruments. When she went home on a recent visit, her uncles and brothers threatened to beat her for a performing appearance on television, and she had to return to Kabul…. Said Ahmad Naser Sarmast [who helped] found the National Institute for Music in 2010, … ‘The bravery of the girls sitting in the orchestra and the leadership of a young female conductor is an achievement for Afghanistan,’ he said…. ‘I will never accept defeat,’ she said. ‘I will continue to play music.’ ”

Posted April 19, 2016

Pictured: Negin Khpalwak leads a rehearsal of the Zohra orchestra at Afghanistan’s National Institute of Music in Kabul, April 9, 2016. Photo by Reuters / Ahmad Masood