Home National museum Afghan National Museum reopens with Taliban security – and visitors

Afghan National Museum reopens with Taliban security – and visitors


KABUL, Afghanistan – The National Museum of Afghanistan is once again open and the Taliban, whose members once smashed the facility by destroying irreplaceable pieces of the country’s national heritage, now appear to be among its most enthusiastic visitors.

The Southwest Kabul Museum, which houses artefacts from the Paleolithic period to the 20th century, reopened just over a week ago for the first time since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in mid-August amid the chaotic withdrawal of US and NATO troops.

Its director, Mohammad Fahim Rahimi, and his staff have so far been allowed to continue in office although they, like many Afghan officials, have not received a salary since August. Only the security guards have changed, Rahimi said, with the Taliban now replacing the police contingent that guarded the building and providing security guards to screen female visitors. Currently, around 50 to 100 people visit the museum every day.

Power cuts are frequent and the museum’s generator has failed, leaving many exhibition rooms in darkness. On Friday, several Taliban, some with assault rifles hanging from their shoulders, were among the visitors using the lights of their cellphones to look in display cases of ancient ceramics and 18th-century weapons.

“It comes from our ancient history, so we came to see it,” said Taliban fighter Mansoor Zulfiqar, a 29-year-old man from Khost province in southeastern Afghanistan, which has now been appointed security officer at the Ministry of the Interior. “I am very happy,” he said of his first visit to the museum, amazed by his country’s national heritage.

Zulfiqar said he spent 12 years in the infamous Pul-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul, the largest in Afghanistan. While there, he said, someone had told him about the museum and he dreamed of the day when the Taliban would rule Afghanistan again and he could visit the museum.

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