Afghan journos decry Taliban TV ‘guidelines’
Afghan journalists and activists yesterday condemned new "religious guidelines" issued by the Taliban that restrict the role of women in television, as the Islamists move to muzzle the media.
The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice on Sunday called on television channels to stop showing dramas and soap operas featuring women actors.
It also told broadcasters not to screen films or programmes that are "against Islamic or Afghan values" and asked women television journalists to wear the Islamic hijab while presenting their reports.
Zan TV, the first Afghan channel staffed exclusively by female producers and reporters, 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 a hair covering to a face veil or full body covering -- is unclear, and the majority of Afghan women already wear headscarves.
The attempt to regulate the media comes three months after the Taliban swept back into power.
Hujatullah Mujadidi, a founding member of the Federation of Afghan Journalists, said if enforced the guidelines would force "some media outlets, especially television, (to) stop working".
Many shows rolled out to fill TV schedules, notably soap operas produced in India and Turkey, will be inappropriate under the new guidelines, making it difficult for channels to generate enough output and retain audiences.
A ministry spokesman said after the announcement that the new measures amounted to a "religious guideline" rather than rules.
But Qari Abdul Sattar Saeed, a media spokesman for the Taliban prime minister, days earlier accused the Afghan media of conveying propaganda for the "enemy" and said they should "be treated harshly".