More Than 100 Afghan Music Students, Alumni, Faculty Flown out of the Country

Students from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music on their way to Doha, Qatar. (Afghanistan National Institute of Music via AP)

The Afghanistan National Institute of Music, founded by Sarmast in 2010, was once famous for its inclusiveness and emerged as the face of a new Afghanistan, performing to packed audiences in the U.S. and Europe. But will they ever perform again under the new Taliban rulership who are still looked at with askance and who banned music when they were last in power in the late 1990s?

More than 100 students, alumni and faculty members of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music were flown out of Kabul on their way to Portugal, where the government has agreed to grant them asylum.

The musicians join tens of thousands of Afghans, including many from the country’s sports and arts scene, who have fled since August. Among the recent evacuees are Afghanistan’s female robotics team, known as the “Afghan Dreamers,” and a girls soccer team who resettled in Mexico and Portugal, respectively.

Sarmast is planning to recreate the school in Portugal, so that the students can continue their education with minimal interruption, and is already looking for ways to secure musical instruments for them as soon as possible. He hopes remaining students and faculty members will be leaving on another flight out later this month.

 – Ella Breedlove