273 Afghan refugee musicians arrive in Portugal – TV channels
Portugal on Monday welcomed 273 Afghan refugees, including students and teachers from a national music school who had fled Afghanistan to escape retaliation from the Taliban.
The Taliban banned music under their strict interpretation of Islamic law during their first term in power between 1996 and 2001, and there are fears they will reinstate equally draconian rules after they regained power in August.
The musicians fled Kabul, the Afghan capital, for Qatar in October before being resettled in Portugal.
Ahmad Naser Sarmast, director of the Afghan National Institute of Music, said reopening his school was a key goal.
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“The commitment is to reopen this school. We have a mission (for) Afghan music to continue, ”he said.
“Thank you to (the) international community. You save our lives, ”music student Shogula Safi said as she arrived at a military airport in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa welcomed the news on Twitter, saying that “students, young women, young men and their relatives will have the opportunity to live and resume their studies in Portugal”.
“I am very happy because I see my friends smiling. We can continue to play music. It makes me really happy, ”added Murtaza Mahammadi, a musician from the Afghan National Institute of Music.
Portugal has so far hosted 764 Afghan refugees, mostly young people, according to government figures.
The southern European country welcomed dozens of Afghan national women’s soccer team players and their families in October.