Afghan journalists and activists on Tuesday condemned the new “religious” guidelinesIssued by the Taliban that restricts the role of women in television, as the country’s new ruler moves to silence the media.
The Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Evil on Sunday called on television channels to stop showing plays and soap operas featuring female actors.
It asked broadcasters not to screen films or programs “against Islamic or Afghan values” and asked female television journalists to wear hijabs when presenting their reports.
i will tv, the first Afghan channel run exclusively by female producers and journalists, said on Twitter that “the guidelines threaten media freedom” and reduce the “presence of women journalists”.
The Taliban’s interpretation of the hijab – which can range from covering the hair to a veil of the face or the entire body – is unclear, and most Afghan women already wear headscarves.
Three months after the Taliban are trying to control the media swept back to power,
Hujtullah Mujadidi, a founding member of the Federation of Afghan Journalists, said that if implemented, the guidelines would be implemented by “some media outlets, notably television, [to] stop working”.
Many shows introduced to fill television schedules, especially soap operas produced in India and Turkey, would be unsuitable under the new guidelines, making it difficult for channels to generate sufficient output and retain audiences.
A ministry spokesman said after the announcement that the new measures are “religious guidelines” rather than rules.
But Qari Abdul Sattar Saeed, the Taliban’s prime minister’s media spokesman, accused the Afghan media of campaigning for the “enemy” a few days ago and said they should be “treated harshly”.
‘Attempt to silence criticism’
Asalia Ahmedzai, a journalist in exile, told AFP That women journalists “will feel threatened”.
Another exiled Afghan journalist, who wished to remain anonymous, described the guidelines as “the first step towards a complete ban on TV just like in the ’90s”.
Reading: Press and Taliban
During the Taliban’s 1996–2001 tenure in power, there was no Afghan media to speak of – the group banned television, movies and other forms of entertainment, considering them immoral.
In-spite of this thrust They will rule more sparingly this time, with the Taliban already enforcing rules about what women must wear to university.
Taliban members have also beaten and tortured Many Afghan journalists have been covering the protests despite promises to uphold the freedom of the press.
Human Rights Watch condemned the television guidelines.
“The new media rules and threats against journalists reflect widespread efforts to silence all criticism of the Taliban regime,” said Human Rights Watch associate Asia director Patricia Gossman.
The rights group said in a statement that many journalists are living in fear because of the threats.
It alleged that “Taliban authorities … require journalists to submit all reports for approval prior to publication.”