ISIS Burns Famous Syrian Musician’s Piano, Tells Him “Music Is Haram”


Via AFP:

Three years of siege, famine and bombing of his Damascus refugee camp didn’t kill celebrated musician Aeham al-Ahmad, but something died inside him the day militants burned his beloved piano in front of his eyes. It was then that Ahmad, whose music had brought consolation, even a bit of joy, to Yarmouk camp’s beleaguered residents, decided to join thousands of others and seek refuge in Europe.


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“They burned it in April, on my birthday. It was my most cherished possession,” Ahmad told AFP, which is following his odyssey online, step-by-step. “The piano wasn’t just an instrument. It was like the death of a friend.”


For 27-year-old Ahmad, whose songs of hope amid the rubble of Syria’s largest Palestinian camp became a social media sensation last year, “it was a very painful moment.”


Since Syria’s civil war struck Yarmouk in 2013, the once-thriving neighborhood saw its population dwindle from 150,000 Palestinians and Syrians to barely 18,000 people.


The camp was caught up in fighting among government forces, rebels, and extremists and suffered a devastating siege by the Syrian army. About 200 people died from malnutrition and a lack of medicines.


Ahmad became a symbol of hope, helping Yarmouk’s people – particularly its children – forget for a moment the brutal war raging around them with every note he played. “The days when I felt the most helpless were when I had money, but I could not get milk for my year-old baby Kinan, or when my older son Ahmad would ask me for a biscuit,” he said.


“It was the worst feeling.”


But after ISIS militants attacked the camp in April, Ahmad’s gentle, tentative ray of light was engulfed in flames. He was in a pickup truck, trying to move his piano to nearby Yalda, where his wife and two boys were living, when he was stopped at a militant checkpoint.


“Don’t you know that music is haram [forbidden by Islam],” a gunman asked, before torching his beloved instrument.

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