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Taliban Issues New Rules Banning Women In TV Dramas

Afghan singer Zulala Hashemi (center) performs alongside competitors Sayed Jamal Mubarez (left) and Babak Mohammadi during the television music competition Afghan Star in Kabul in 2017.

Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have ordered the country’s television channels to stop showing dramas featuring women actors and said female television journalists must wear the Islamic hijab.

The new eight-point set of “religious guidelines” issued on November 21 by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice are the latest restrictions on life under the Taliban.

The ministry also ordered channels not to broadcast movies, comedies, or entertainment programs that “insult” or "humiliate" individuals or are against the principles of the group’s interpretation of Islamic law and Afghan culture.

Any films or programs showing the Prophet Muhammad or other revered figures are also banned under the directive, while programs showing men not properly dressed under the Islamic group’s standards are also not allowed.

"These are not restrictions on freedom of expression, but a few simple principles,” Akef Mohajer, a spokesman for the ministry, told RFE/RL.

After toppling the internationally recognized government in Kabul in mid-August, the Taliban claimed it would show more moderation than during its brutal rule from 1996 to 2001, when morality police enforced the group’s strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Under the previous rules, girls were not allowed to attend school and women were banned from work, education, sports, and much of public life. At the time, there was no Afghan media to speak of, but the Taliban banned television, movies, and most other forms of entertainment, deeming it immoral.

Since its return to power, the Taliban has already introduced rules for what women can wear at university, banned most girls from attending secondary school, and imposed restrictions on women working in the civil service.

The Taliban government has not been recognized by any country. The United States and many other countries have made recognition of the new government contingent on a number of conditions, including respect for human rights, guarantees for media freedom, and an inclusive political system.

With reporting by AFP and RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi
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