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Shi’ite Religious Leaders in Afghanistan Ban Local Musical Festival, Call it “Harram”

As per the Shi’ite religious leaders' council, propagating music with dance and playing Dombra is against Islamic values

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Members of the Zohra orchestra
Members of the Zohra orchestra, an ensemble of 35 women, attend a rehearsal at Afghanistan's National Institute of Music, in Kabul, April 4, 2016. Source: (VOA)
  • Local musical festival in central Afghanistan banned by Shi’ite religious leaders
  • The organizers will perform the two-day Dombra festival anyway
  • It is against Islamic law as per Shi’ite religious leaders

Afghanistan,  July 18, 2017: A council of Shi’ite religious leaders in Bamyan province in central Afghanistan banned a local musical festival, calling it “Harram” or against Islamic law, while many other religious leaders hailed it as art and a cultural event.

Also read: Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

Local officials say that despite the disagreement with religious leaders, the organizers will go ahead with their schedule to perform the two-day Dombra Music Festival, and the statement of the religious council will not affect their cultural festival. The event was scheduled earlier this month.

The Dombra, a lute-like musical instrument, is distinctive in central regions of Afghanistan, although the instrument has different names in various provinces of Afghanistan among varied traditions.

The Shi’ite religious leaders’ council, in its statement, said, “Propagating music with dance and jubilance and playing Dombra is against Islamic values, and local administration must preclude such events that expand immoralities.”

The local administration of information and culture in Bamyan rejected the allegation of the religious council, emphasizing that the musical festival in Bamyan is holding on to the request of residents and the “Dombra musical festival is representing the culture and art of people in Bamyan.”

Bamyan has experienced less violence and insecurity than some provinces over past 15 years. More than 10 art and cultural festivals have been held on different occasions in Bamyan in recent years. In addition, two years ago, a group of women initiated an effort to learn Dombra and established a local band. (VOA)

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About 2M Children in Afghanistan Suffer Acute Malnutrition: UNICEF

But UNICEF is struggling to fund its operation. The agency needs an immediate injection of $7 million, Boulierac said

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malnutrition
FILE - A boy walks inside what is left of a home in Kandahar province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, March, 3, 2019. The U.N. Children's Fund is appealing for money to treat Afghanistan's malnourished children. VOA

About two million children in Afghanistan are acutely malnourished. Of those, 600,000 face severe acute malnutrition, the most dangerous form of undernutrition in children, said Christophe Boulierac, a spokesman for the U.N. Children’s Fund.

“Any child suffering from severe acute malnutrition is a crisis and needs to be treated to survive,” he said. “We cannot tell you how many children will die, but we can tell you that a child with severe acute malnutrition is 11 times more likely to die than their healthy peers.”

Afghanistan, alongside Yemen and South Sudan, is among the countries with the highest numbers of children under age five suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Severe drought in 2018 has worsened the situation.

malnutrition
But UNICEF is struggling to fund its operation. The agency needs an immediate injection of $7 million, Boulierac said. Pixabay

Recent nutrition surveys across Afghanistan find 22 out of 34 provinces are above the emergency threshold of acute malnutrition. Last year, UNICEF provided life-saving assistance to nearly half of the country’s most nutritionally deprived children. It is aiming to reach 60 percent, or 375,000, of those children this year. But UNICEF is struggling to fund its operation. The agency needs an immediate injection of $7 million, Boulierac said.

“We are the sole provider of this treatment against severe acutely malnourished children,” he told VOA. “We need urgent funding in three weeks, otherwise, we will not send the necessary ready-to-use therapeutic food treatment to the 1,300 health facilities that are waiting for that.”

ALSO READ: Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh Face Serious Water Shortage

This year, UNICEF has provided treatment to more than 73,000 severely malnourished children. Boulierac said plans are in place to immediately scale up the operation to reach more children as soon as more money is available.

He also warned that the nutritional status of Afghanistan’s children is likely to worsen without more secure funding in the pipeline. (VOA)