Monday, May 10, 2004

Residents and traders alike heap scorn on the drummers, singers, sitarists, and fiddle players
The FCC's Pakistani bureau is getting uppity about some of the local musicians:

"These people are not artists. They are perverts, prostitutes,'' Zahir Shah, the bearded president of a new residents' group calling itself the Movement for Removal of Obscenity, told AFP...

... On April 11, the movement managed to force the artists to draw their lattice-worked shutters for the last time. Late in the evening, the organisation's followers blocked the road to prevent customers from meeting and hiring the singers.

They smashed the sound system of one musician when he refused to close his shop. Later shots were fired at another shop, panicking the performers who fled. Police arrested 13 persons, including the movement's president Shah. They were released two days later after both parties agreed to compromise...

... "There was no art here. They were promoting homosexuality and prostitution,'' alleged Murad Shinwari, the puritan movement's vice president and spokesman for the local branch of Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan's largest Islamic party.

"They teased girls and played music at prayer times.''

Aside from the moral indignation there's this tidbit about local business practices:

Housed in 56 hired quarters, hundreds of musicians waited for clients in the rooms, tuning their instruments in the window seats as they sought to catch the eyes of potential customers.

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