Monday, May 04, 2009

killing of ayman udas and pressures on music in pakistan

The killing of singer Ayman Udas in Peshawar, Pakistan, allegedly by her brothers for singing on television, is reported in The Times newspaper. As this video shows, she had a truly beautiful voice; the scenes of the highly appreciative modestly-sized audience, some women headscarfed and some not, gently clapping along, boys and men included, is heartbreaking in retrospect. In a separate report the Pakistani journalist Javed Aziz Khan quotes her widower in the newspaper The News International as saying her two brothers had shot her dead because of family disapproval that the divorced singer had married for the second time.

British Muslim author and journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown writes about the case of Ayman in her column in the Independent today. "Female oppression in Islamic countries is manifestly getting worse. Islam, as practiced by millions today, has lost its compassion and integrity and is entering one of the darkest of dark ages." She cites the case of Ayman as one of "this month's short list of unbearable stories (imagine how many more there are which will never be known)."

Another indication of the increasing pressures on music in Pakistan comes in a report posted on the website of Freemuse, the international organisation that opposes music censorship and promotes freedom of musical expression. The report from Khushal Yousafzai, Freemuse's correspondent in Mingora , is headlined 'Music has died in the Swat Valley'. The Taliban-inspired campaign against music includes the murder of dancer and singer Shabana in January by a group of militants in Mingora who threw her body into the city's Green Square as a warning for others; the looting, bombing and closure of 500 shops that sold music CDs; and the imposition of a strict interpretation of shariah law under which music is sinful and strictly prohibited. “They want to transform local cultural values. The future is bleak for singers and music lovers,” said Zafar Yousafzai, a political analyst based in Islamabad, adding that music has now died in the Swat valley which was once a valley of music, melodies and dances and a great seat of learning in liberal arts.

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