Afghan Female Artist

Afghanistan sees its first female artist, Shamsia Hassani’s, work in the streets of Kabul with just a spray can and hope to see a peaceful future. As well as representing art in Afghanistan, Shamsia Hassani is also a representative and a spokesperson for women’s rights in Kabul. She sees her art work in the city of Kabul as a way to ‘spray over the memories of War.’

The artist, Shamsia Hassani, was born in Iran to her Afghan parents. She is a street and digital artist who works in the country’s multifaceted and conflicted capital. She returned to Afghanistan in the year 2005 in order to pursue her education in Fine Art at Kabul University. She works to start yearly graffiti workshops through the country and to change the way society views women who refuse to stay silent and those who come out of their veils to stand up for their opinions.

The history of Afghanistan has seen many invasions that carried many cultures and beliefs, occupations and empires that so often emaciated the country. Upon the invasion of the Taliban in the year 1996-2001 most practices of art and cultural expression were banned. The War on art was inspired by the Quran as it prohibits the depiction of living things. Drawing or sculpting living things was believed to be an insult to God.

Paintings, books containing art work, TV sets and music were all destroyed by the Taliban and were amongst the primary actions of elimination.  At the beginning of the Taliban rule and rise of power, in the year 1996, the Afghan National Museum was burned down and destroyed and used to keep the insurgents warm.

As well as the ban of art, social and traditional expressions such as kite flying and owning pet birds were also prohibited. Women were banned from make-up and high heels. A new dress code was introduced for women, to cover as much as possible, from head to toe. If any of the rules were disobeyed, women were beaten in public to scare others from doing the same.

The future of art in Afghanistan is not certain as the shadow of War is still lurking in the streets of Afghanistan. Nevertheless, there have been many developments to reinstitute art studios and traditional clay sculpting schools in order to reopen the doors that were once closed to the people of Afghanistan and grow upon its lost, gone and bottled-up traditional teachings and cultural legacy.

Shamsia Hassani talks about art 

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ISIS heads towards Afghanistan

As ISIS enters Afghanistan, the people and its government face new challenges and threats to an already frail situation.

ISIS

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) took over the al-Qaeda organisation, founded by Osama Bin Laden. Abu Bakr al-Baghdad who is also known as Abu Dua is the ISIS leader and has become the World’s most powerful jihadi leader.

ISIS seized control of Mosul, which is Iraq’s second-largest city. Their power base is in Raqqa which is in eastern Syria. According to energy expert Luay al-Khateeb, who spoke to CNN, ISIS are in control of more than half of Syria’s oil assets as well as a number of oil fields in Iraq.  Al-Khateeb also explained that the oil is finding its way to the black market and could be making ISIS up to $3 million each day. The group has established to be more ruthless and more active at controlling the land it has held.

ISIS is under tight directions by top leaders to kill Shia Muslims and Christians whenever possible. The exact size of ISIS is unclear, people have travelled from around the World to join ISIS and fight in Syria and Iraq. Officials suggest that more than 11,000 people have joined and some have returned home. Research shows that, countries with bigger Muslim populations send the largest number of fighters.

Isis members

ISIS in Afghanistan

It has been 15 years of the US invasion, which lead to the ousting of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but Afghanistan is still in a fragile state. It remains afflicted by Taliban attacks, long-lasting levels of corruption, political instability, and the economic uncertainty.

ISIS is spreading drastically from its main location to other countries. Recently the group found its way into the cities of Afghanistan. This could lead to a new wave of political and religious violence.

Afghanistan has a history of political violence in the name of Islam and a large number of religious extremist groups. In its decade-and-a-half long revolution, the Taliban failed to capture and keep major cities and district centres. In promising to work with ISIS, the Taliban aimed to get more supporters help, earn a bigger name and receive more funds.  The rise of ISIS has encouraged extremists in Afghanistan to review and transmit their strategies in the direction of an imposing display of force.

But according to recent reports, the Taliban and ISIS have declared jihad against one another due to the fact that ISIS refused to work under the same flag.  The Taliban’s deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor addressed a letter to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdad, and said, “Jihad (Holy war) against the Americans and their allies must be conducted under one leadership.”

According to The Daily Beast, there are discussions between the Taliban and Iran on how to deal with the extremist group ISIS, as they are known.

Mullah Khan Muhammad Noorzai, an ex-Taliban spoke to The Daily Beast and said that the ISIS camp was attacked by the Taliban which lead to the death of innocent followers. In a phone interview, he said, “Most of those killed were our friends and colleagues.” Despite an agreement that the Taliban and ISIS would not attack each other, Taliban broke the agreement and attacked ISIS.

Noorzai said, “A Muslim won’t break a commitment, the Taliban are not true Muslims, and not mujahedeen (holy warriors) either. Now our jihad against the ignorant so-called Taliban will go on forever.”

According to Noorzai, the Taliban are fighting in the name of Islam but are funded by Iranians and United States. He said, “The Taliban shadow governor for Farah, through the mediation of Mullah Baz Muhammad, a local elder, swore an oath by Allah and the Quran that they would not attack ISIS, but they did.” He added that Iran played a key role in this.

ISIS attacks on Afghanistan

The Taliban and ISIS announced War on one another in April after the Taliban labelled ISIS self-declared caliphate and unlawful.

The first major ISIS attack was a suicide bombing in Afghanistan that killed at least 35 people dead and 100 people were wounded. The bombing happened outside of a bank branch in the Jalalabad city which is Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province.

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A spokesperson for a provincial governor, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, described the attack and claimed that a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated a vest rigged with explosives in front of the state-run New Kabul Bank. Borhan Osman, who is an analyst with Afghanistan Analysts Network, tracked the emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan, “[Isis] has not built a solid, actual political presence in Afghanistan so far,” Osman said, “but if the Taliban quasi-monopoly is broken, that will help [it] to build networks and their brand.”

The president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani said, “Who claimed responsibility for the horrific attack in Nangrahar today? The Taliban did not claim responsibility for the attack.” during his visit to northeastern province of Badakhshan

There have been several attacks since ISIS have entered Afghanistan. Most recently, at least 10 Taliban members were beheaded by ISIS. The attack happened in the eastern province of Nangrahar after ISIS jihadis stopped Taliban fighters from fleeing a gun battle with the government troops.

Ashraf Ghani talking about ISIS 

The Buddha Statues have returned

The Buddha statues that were destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan have returned in the form of 3-D light projections.

The Taliban leader, Mullah Omar stated, in March 2001, that the statues were false idols.  He stated that, “These idols have been gods of the infidels.” As an act of religious terror, the Taliban forces destroyed the Buddha statues, with the help of local workers, by blowing the statues down.

Both the statues were carved beautifully in cliffs and lay in rubble for more than a decade around 1,500 years ago. Statues are based in Bamiyan Valley which is a World Heritage Site.

The idea of the projections came from documentarians, Jason Yu and Liyan Hu. They were given permission to debut their work by UNESCO and the Afghan government.

Technology has increased in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban. TV’s are now working, electricy is available throughout the day and computers are used more than ever before. But the chance to see the Buddhas once again, via a projection, is by far one of the best. This allowed Afghans to see the giant Buddhas once again and to admire the beauty of the Buddhas again.

One of the men who participated in the attack stated that, “First they fired at the Buddhas with tanks and artillery shells. But when that was ineffective, they planted explosives to try to destroy them.” He also added, when the statues were taken down, the Taliban celebrated by dancing and slaughtered nine cows as sacrifice.

The 3-D light projections filled the cutouts in the mountains. According to The Atlantic, over 150 people watched the display.

This photo taken on June 7, 2015 shows the projected image of a Buddha statue in Bamiyan that had been destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. The initiative to visually restore the destroyed antiquities was dreamt up by Chinese couple Zhang Xinyu and Liang Hong, who are travelling through countries on the historic Silk Road route.  AFP PHOTO / Kamran Shafayee        (Photo credit should read KAMRAN SHAFAYEE/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on June 7, 2015 shows the projected image of a Buddha statue in Bamiyan that had been destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. The initiative to visually restore the destroyed antiquities was dreamt up by Chinese couple Zhang Xinyu and Liang Hong, who are travelling through countries on the historic Silk Road route. AFP PHOTO / Kamran Shafayee (Photo credit should read KAMRAN SHAFAYEE/AFP/Getty Images)