Cinema Park Demolished on First Vice President’s Order

8 Subh, Kabul: Kabul Municipality destroyed Cinema Park, following an order by Amrullah Saleh, the first vice president. This demolition started on Monday (November 9) despite criticism and opposition from cultural figures.

Samira Rasa, a spokesperson for Kabul Municipality, told 8 Subh on Tuesday, November 10, that Cinema Park had been demolished and that Kabul Municipality had prepared a preliminary design of the structure that would replace the cinema. Rasa said that a large cultural association would replace Cinema Park. According to her, the municipality executed an order of the first vice president. Samira Rasa said that after the unification and finalization of the design plan, the municipality would start its construction.

The municipality spokesperson cited cracked walls as the main reason for demolishing Cinema Park. According to her, the cinema park was made of raw bricks and there was a possibility of collapsing. Rasa said the cinema park was not built in the style of Afghan architecture and thus did not count as a historical monument.

The decision to demolish Cinema Park was taken in one of the sessions at 6:30 a.m. by Amrullah Saleh, the First Vice President, and was met with widespread opposition. Amrullah Saleh once again stressed that the cinema park building was made from wood, which was worn and unable to be repaired. He added that, based on the available space, the possibility of letting Cinema Park remain for its intended purpose was unfeasible. Saleh, responding to criticism, wrote that “efficiency and adequacy” were more important than popularity and populism.

The first vice president also said that Kabul Municipality was awaiting technical advice from architectural, engineering, environmental, and cultural experts to find an alternative design to take the place of the area formerly occupied by Cinema Park.

Sahra Karimi, Director of Afghan Film, sat inside Cinema Park on Monday evening to protest its demolition. After a while, she announced that the police forced her out before its demolition. A video clip has been released of the Director of Afghan in tears.

The Ministry of Information and Culture and the Cultural Advisor to President Ghani also called for “tolerance” in the demolition of the cinema.

Farhad Darya, a famous Afghan artist, wrote a letter to Amrullah Saleh and asked him to repair Cinema Park instead of destroying it. In the letter, Darya compared the destruction of Cinema Park to the destruction of the Bamiyan statues. In another letter, however, Farhad Darya apologized to Amrullah Saleh for sending the first letter.