In the late 1990, when Afghanistan was ruled by the Taliban, they banned music, television, sports and dancing due to their strict interpretation of Islam.
This changed after the US led invasion that ended their rule in 2001, now Afghanistan is home to numerous television station, beauty parlors, sports stadiums and wedding halls.
The South American fitness craze landed in Kabul two months ago and has attracted enthusiastic followers.
In a secluded gym in the Afghan capital, young women sway and jump in time with music in a Zumba dance fitness class; this marked a new arrival in a country where dance was once forbidden under the Taliban’s rule.
Reuters spoke with an 18- year- old Muzhgan Ahmadi at the gym center. He said:
“Although it is exercise for the body, it also relaxes the mind, so whenever someone wants to relax, he or she should do Zumba’’.
Relaxation is important for Afghans living through the 15th year of war with a resurgent Taliban, whose bombs typically explode in Kabul on a weekly or even daily basis.
Indoors, at the Zumba class in Kabul, the young dancers wear headscarf’s with loose tracksuits as they practice the moves from an instructional video.
While the threat of attacks is rarely far from residents’ minds, Zumba enthusiasts say the dance provides welcome escape.
Muzhgan Ahmadi also disclosed while speaking with Reuters that
“When I (first) come to this gym, I felt afraid that someone may enter, but I ignored all the problems and fears and want to stand and carry on with this sport.” (Reuters\NAN)