A music student is the latest victim of Afghanistan terror

William Harvey, an American violinist who has been working in Kabul for several years with a new generation of musicians, has published a video of one of his beloved pupils who was killed in the August 25 attack on the American University of Kabul.

Sam Sarwari, a dilruba player, is another innocent victim of political vanities.


sam sarwari


William writes: Dilruba player Samiullah Sarwari graduated from Afghanistan National Institute of Music, earned a scholarship to the American University of Afghanistan, and had started his second day there when he was murdered by cowardly terrorists, the enemies of Afghanistan and of Islam, on August 25, 2016. May Samiullah rest in peace. These pictures are from his performances. The playing you hear is his.


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  • Tragic… but why the obligatory “enemies of Islam” boilerplate? The terrorists are only following the instructions of Mohammed. Read the Koran, not the nice parts, but the parts about killing the Jews hiding behind trees, killing all infidels, having sex with underage children, etc. That’s true Islam, like it or not. Making up our own version of “Islam for Western Dummies” doesn’t change what’s in the Koran.

    But, as usual, Mr. Lebrecht is the only major culture blogger to even mention stories like this. Kasarova probably still hasn’t recovered from her injuries, and I’m still waiting for the other blogs to step up. Some people only care about artists when they’re onstage.

    • Or killing (usually by stoning) women who are not virgins on their wedding nights, or for male homosexuality, or for working on the sabbath, or for disobeying a parent, or for adultery, or for a long list of other things. Oh, sorry, these are from the Bible. My mistake.

      • Scott, the people in the bible are long dead, and modern Christians and Jews rarely act like that anymore. When some deranged Jewish extremist murdered a girl at a gay rights parade in Jerusalem, he got life in prison, and he recently got beaten up there. Compare and contrast that with the many, many examples of modern Muslims acting out according to Mohammed’s instructions. And the governments that support and excuse these criminals, I mean observant Muslims. (See Pakistan, especially.)

        • In religiously-linked violence, it is the urge to be violent that comes first, followed by the urge to justify it in scripture. Desperate and hateful people become violent and then try to rationalize their motivations. It has been so with Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and any number of religions that have faded from memory.

          Back in America, where I’m from originally, there is more than a little violence linked to Christianity. In the absence of scripture the violence would remain. New rationalizations would be constructed to take religion’s place.

          • All very true. First, there is the bloodthirst; second, rationalisation. (Coincidentally I know a number of Pakistani who emigrated to the West, and they independently from each other confirm that the majority of their compartriots don’t live according to the minority of crazy extremists. This will be the case in many muslem countries.) The evil produced so often by so many human beings remains a mystery that cannot be fully explained by circumstances, economics, culture, isolation etc. etc. There is something vulnerable in the human mind – a pathology. Maybe something that a darwinist or a mystic can explain.

    • I’m William Harvey, the violin teacher & orchestra conductor at Afghanistan National Institute of Music from March 21, 2010, to March 23, 2014. Mr. Lebrecht is mistaken that I “have been visiting the school.” I lived in Kabul continuously for 4 years and have visited my former place of employment as a guest for 3 weeks in February 2015.

      I’m writing to address the comment about identifying Samiullah’s killers as “enemies of Islam.” Like many non-Muslims in secular nations, I have concerns about some interpretations of Islam. However, in the wake of my beloved student’s murder, I set those aside. Samiullah was more liberal than many Afghans currently living in Afghanistan, but was indisputably a Muslim. I honor his memory by refusing to accept that his killers, and not he himself, had a more accurate interpretation of Islam.

      Furthermore, it’s very difficult to connect the attack in which he was murdered to religion. It was probably perpetrated by the Haqqani network, which many reputable journalists and scholars have found to be funded by Pakistani intelligence. In this particular instance, religion is less relevant than a brutal form of politics rooted in outdated Cold War doctrines like strategic depth.

      Afghanistan is not hell. Rather, it is a beautiful country that has endured suffering few other countries could survive. My former boss, Dr. Ahmad Sarmast, is one of the foremost figures restoring Afghan culture to its glory days. Samiullah was one of the institute’s star students. His loss is unbearable, and unacceptable. All lovers of music must unite in support of Dr. Sarmast’s admirable efforts in order to ensure that the strings of the dilruba do not fall silent in Afghanistan again.

      • Great writing, William. And Norman Lebrecht justly described the assault rather as political than as religious. Of course using religion as a cover. Meanwhile I mentioned that the wonderful founder of the music academy in Kabul, Mr Sarmast, also had been a victim of a bomb attack too, leaving him mostly deaf, I think.

  • For the perpetrators, 70 virgin demons are awaiting them in hell, but the victims go straight to heaven.

  • It is obvious that being the youngest of the three Abrahamic faiths, Islam is the freshest to literally stick to its scripts in full meaning. However, even more than the two others, the commands from the scripts are often ambiguous, both tolerant and intolerant. Given the fact that there are over four billion of Muslims now around the world, and given the state the world is in, one can only conclude that the far majority of Muslims stick to the tolerant version of the wordings. While on the other hand every now and then one hears of violent abruptions in fundamentalist Jewry and Christians too. One only needs to listen to Ann Coulter or the son of Billy Graham or a few other still quite mainstream preachers in the US (I am not going to look them all up now) or the recently appointed chief rabbi of the Israeli army, who condones raping ‘enemy women’ by the Israeli army; not that the Israeli army has put that to practice, but some settlers are virulently violent too and would be more violent if they got the chance.
    Meanwhile Samiullah (who has the word Allah in his name) is a Muslim too, and the music academy where he studied is Muslim run too. The founder and for years director himself was wounded in an attack and still is almost deaf. While he founded a place where young people could practice music together like in a paradise. I have visited the place. He had a program specially aimed at aspiring young female musicians and had a program of providing facilities for poor and/or orphaned young students.
    So it is better to keep the whole picture in mind.
    And to be complete: while indeed apparently nowadays people voluntarily still join the Taliban and so are individually responsible for the harm they do, wasn’t it the West that helped found, and fund, the Taliban, in order to fight the Russians, who were supporting a leftist secular regime? They gave Oussama bin Laden free hand and after that they gave Wahhabist funders from across the Gulf free hand.
    Greetings from Teheran, where I am in a theatre festival where two days before there was a wonderful theatre play from Kabul presenting a fable of war and violence, but followed by peace, and yesterday there was an Iranian show on the creation of earth and man, starting in paradise, and how man is destroying the earth , but still has the capacity to bring back paradise on earth. In a way an almost atheist show.

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