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Arts

The art of surviving under the Taliban

Lack of work hits Afghan artists more than direct repression

A work by Afghan street artist Milad Mohammadi. Once commissioned by the U.S.-backed government and foreign embassies to paint murals, Milad says his work is "against the rules" of the new Taliban regime, making it hard for him to earn enough money to feed his children. (Courtesy of the artist)

KABUL/BAMIYAN, Afghanistan -- Afghan street artist Milad Mohammadi has turned many grey walls in Kabul into messages of peace or remembrance. But soon after the Taliban takeover in August he realized he would have to put the brush down: There was no space for the arts in the new regime's strict view of Islam -- or in its empty pockets.

"My murals are against the rules of the Taliban," the deaf painter says in sign language, helped by a translator. "So now I don't have much work. I only draw portraits in pencil for private people who ask me."

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