Taliban replaces Kabul murals with pro-Islamic slogans

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Taliban replaces Kabul murals with pro-Islamic slogans

The Taliban is white-washing murals in Kabul, Afghanistan depicting historic US social and political moments — including one commemorating its peace agreement with the US.

The streets of Kabul, which were once home to brightly colored murals honoring a murdered Japanese aid worker, the drowning of Afghan refugees in Iran, the peace agreement, the death of George Floyd, and others honoring social or political issues, are now being replaced by paintings of Taliban flags and Islamic slogans. 

The mural depicting the US-Taliban peace agreement has been replaced by a quote which says the Taliban are the “true defenders” of Afghanistan.

On Monday, the Taliban was seen painting its flag on a wall outside the US embassy in Kabul.

The radical Islamist group’s white and black banner, which features an Islamic statement of faith, was painted along a roadway and in front of a security watchtower.

The Taliban has been replacing the murals that once lined the streets of Kabul with ones that have Islamic slogans and the Taliban flag.
The Taliban has been replacing the murals that once lined the streets of Kabul with ones that have Islamic slogans and the Taliban flag.
AFP via Getty Images

The mural honoring Floyd, which has the words “I can’t breathe” written on it, has yet to be covered up, according to the Daily Mail.

The original murals were painted by a group of creatives known as “Artlords,” who spent the last eight years covering Kabul in artwork, per The Guardian. 

One of the group’s co-founders, Omaid Sharifi, believes the Taliban is attempting to silence the public by replacing the murals related to social issues. 

Taliban artwork covers the former US embassy with the flag on one side and a slogan on the other.
Taliban artwork covers the former US embassy with the flag on one side and a slogan on the other.
Jake Simkin for NY Post

“Our aim was to promote critical thinking and put pressure on the government to accept people’s demands,” Sharifi said. “Taliban was and is an armed movement that only understands guns, violence, beating, beheading, suicide vests and bombs. There is no vocabulary about art in the Taliban’s dictionary. They even cannot imagine art. I think they don’t understand it, that’s why they are destroying it.”

Sharifi called the murals “the soul of Kabul,” saying they gave “beauty” to Afghanistan’s capital and “kindness” to its suffering residents. 

“These murals not only belong to me or the Artlords, they belong to the people of Afghanistan because for each of them we invited 50 to 200 people to paint them,” he said, adding, “These are about the wishes, demands and the asks of Afghan people. It was their voice on these walls. These murals were against corruption and were pushing for transparency.”

A man paints Taliban propaganda over one of the many murals in Kabul.
A man paints Taliban propaganda over one of the many murals in Kabul.
AFP via Getty Images

Despite receiving death threats from the Taliban, Artlords continued to paint throughout the last few weeks. On Aug. 15, Sharifi and five of his colleagues painted a mural outside a government building as the Taliban waited at Kabul’s gates. 

With the completion of the troop withdrawal on Aug. 30, the US also ended its initial evacuation efforts for Americans and Afghan allies in the war-torn country. 

US troops helped evacuate more than 116,000 people from Kabul, as the Taliban took over the country, including 6,000 Americans. However, less than 100 Americans remain in the country. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday told reporters the US is in constant contact with those Americans who “may still wish to leave,” and case management teams have been assigned to each remaining American citizen.

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