Weddings go on under Taliban, but with less singing, and bribery

Kabul, Afghanistan — At one of Kabul’s upscale wedding halls, a celebration was in full swing around midday Tuesday. Afghan dance music could be heard from inside the hall. 

According to reception hall’s manager, Shadab Azimi, 26, at least seven wedding parties have been held since the Taliban takeover of Kabul two weeks earlier, with festivities moved to daylight hours because of security concerns.

The Taliban, who during their previous rule between 1996-2001 had banned most music, except for devotional Islamic songs, did not announce a ban of live music, Azimi said. However, wedding singers canceled on their own, for fear of running afoul of possible new Taliban restrictions.

AFGHANISTAN-CONFLICT
Taliban fighters patrol along a street in Kabul, August 31, 2021.  HOSHANG HASHIMI/AFP/Getty

He said in recent celebrations, couples played taped music. Azimi said business was down by 80% over the past two weeks, presumably because of a sense of uncertainty.
 
The manager said Taliban patrols check in a couple of times a day, asking if he needs help with security, but have not seemed threatening. And unlike the security forces under the deposed government, the Taliban have not demanded bribes, he said.
 
“Former officials, including police officers, were asking us for money and we were forced to host their friends for lunches and dinners,” he said.
 
Even before the Taliban takeover, wedding parties were traditionally segregated in Afghanistan, with men and women celebrating in different spaces.

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