Amateur singers Wajiha Rastagar and husband Farid Rastagar said the governor of Herat barred them twice from performing at concerts in the western province, apparently for security reasons. The singers said the act was unprecedented.
The concert was supposed to be held last week on Wednesday.
The couple, who started their careers as amateur singers in the early 1990s, said they are planning a series of concerts during their current trip to the country.
“Things were coordinated for a second time to have a historic performance at Amir Ali Sher Nava’i symposium (in Herat) but the governor’s office informed us that we cannot hold the concert. And we were told that they cannot ensure our security,” Wajiha Rastagar said.
Four days after remaining in Herat, the couple returned to Kabul and held a concert for an orphanage in Kabul on Monday.
“I am excited to be here among you,” Farid Rastagar said at the event. “I see talented and dear children here.”
But Herat residents said the influence of religious extremists in the province is behind the cancellation of the concert.
“This shows how much we are regressing in our culture and the extent to which extremism has influenced our society,” said Mitra Diyar, a Kabul resident.
“They are preventing such events when the people need a smile,” said Rahil Saya, a Kabul resident.
Cultural activists said that such a move by any individual is not acceptable.
“How can a local government bow to such influence by a group that is violent,” said Mohammad Reza Mohammadi, a poet and writer.
Herat's governor did not comment on the cancellation of the concert.
Four years back, the cancellation of a concert by singer Ariana Saeed at Ghazi Stadium in Kabul made headlines.