Early on this past week, militants from the Taliban defaced and pained over a wall of the former United States embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, moving to redecorate the building with a giant Taliban flag, and have since started painting over a number of murals that lined the streets of downtown Kabul, including one of which that was designed to commemorate the U.S. Taliban peace agreement back in 2020, along with a painting of George Floyd.
Since the start of the week, the pieces of art are being destroyed and slowly replaced with Islamic slogans and Taliban victory statements, as reported by the New York Post.
“The Taliban are whitewashing murals in Kabul, Afghanistan, depicting historic US social and political moments — including one commemorating their peace agreement with the US,” stated the Post on Thursday.
“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 being replaced by paintings of Taliban flags and Islamic slogans” continued the outlet.
These paintings are pieces done by the Afghan group named the “Artlords” and they “painted the murals on walls and blast barriers, spending eight years transforming swathes of Kabul until the Taliban marched in,” reported the Guardian.
The mural of George Floyd, which shows the racial justice icon holding a sign that reads, “I Can’t Breathe,” is meant to show the lines between Floyd’s death, which served as the sparking point for an entire global movement, and the deaths by drowning of several Afghan migrants while attempting to get to Iran. Before the new Taliban rule, Afghanistan seemed to claim that the migrant people were “pushed into the river after being tortured, a charge denied by Iran.”
Currently, the portrait of George Floyd is on the docket for replacement but it is currently not clear as to whether the Taliban has entirely destroyed the mural as of yet, as reported by the Guardian.
One member of the group “Artlords,” Omar Sharifi, seemed to place blame on the Taliban for refusing to understand the artwork and trying to just sanitize the city in such a way as to comply with the draconian Taliban rule.
“Our aim was to promote critical thinking and put pressure on the government to accept people’s demands,” stated Sharifi. “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.”
“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 continued before going on to add, “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.”