TV Censorship in Afghanistan
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11th January
2008
  

Stony Grounds...

Afghanistan nutters gunning for Indian soaps

Afganistan flag Afghanistan's spiritual guardians have discovered a dangerous new peril: Indian soap operas.

The Islamic Council of Scholars won the backing this week of a powerful government minister in its campaign to get dozens of wildly popular Bombay dramas off Afghanistan's television screens.

The Minister of Information and Culture has written to television executives to threaten prosecution if they show footage that offends morality. He is particularly concerned about Indian soaps.

His announcement came after dozens of clerics met President Karzai a week ago to demand a ban on shows that they claim are spreading immorality and un-Islamic culture . The dramas have won thousands of devotees in Afghanistan who enjoy the escapist world of the fictional Bombay rich. Anywhere else, the family dramas with wooden acting and creaking sets would be thought tame. They have, however, offended the country's new moral enforcers, who fear that the soaps will fuel a craze of “stone worship”, or veneration of Hindu idols.

The enforcers are also urging the Government to take action to get a young generation of rappers and pop stars off air. The old men accuse the musicians of polluting the nation's moral standards and they have chastised Afghans who watch television when they could go to the mosque.

Saad Mohseni, the director of Tolo TV, said: We have so many problems in this country - kidnapping, terrorism, inflation - so why is the Government making a big deal about something which is pleasing to the eyes and ears of most Afghans?

 

5th April
2008
  

Update: All War and No Play...

Unislamic dancing to be banned from Afghan TV

Afghanistan flag Afghanistan's lower house of Parliament has passed a resolution seeking to bar television programs from showing dancing and other practices deemed un-Islamic.

The decision came just days after the private Tolo TV channel aired a dance number featuring men and women together on an Afghan film awards program.

The Information and Culture Ministry condemned the scene, saying dancing by men and women together was completely against the culture of the Afghan, Muslim society.

The parliamentary resolution, drafted by a commission for cultural and religious affairs, said dancers should not be shown on television, and un-Islamic scenes should be cut from Indian TV series broadcast in Afghanistan, said Din Mohammad Azimi, a lawmaker and member of the commission.

The resolution, which is not now legally binding and cannot be enforced, will go before the upper house of Parliament for consideration, Azimi said. It would also have to be approved by the president before becoming law.

Tolo TV's owner Saad Mohseni said the dancing on the awards show Friday was very tame by any standard and the women were dressed modestly.

 

17th April
2008
  

Update: Taliban Telly Ban...

Afghanistan reverting to old ways

Taliban flag An Afghan legislative committee has drafted a bill seeking to introduce Taliban-style Islamic morality codes.

The draft, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, needs approval by both chambers of the Islamist-dominated parliament and President Hamid Karzai signature to become a law.

Women and girls are obliged to not wear make-up, wear suitable dresses and observe hijab (veil) while at work or classrooms, said one article of the draft.

It also aims to ban women dancers performing during concerts and other public events as well as on television. The mass media including television and cable networks must avoid broadcasting programmes against Islamic morals, it said without giving details.

Men and young boys must avoid wearing bracelets, necklaces, "feminist dresses," and hair-bands, the draft reads.

The proposals also demand an end to dog and bird-fighting, pigeon-flying, billiards and video games, all past times favoured by many Afghans.

It demands separate halls for men and women during wedding parties.

Update: Shameful President

22nd April 2008

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai defended a decision by his government to ban Indian soap operas, saying they violated his nation's moral standards and culture.

The culture ministry has given several privately run television stations until today to stop showing certain popular serials based on tales of love, disputes and the daily lives of Indian Hindu families.

At least one has already been taken off air after the ban, which authorities say was prompted by a call from religious scholars who labelled the shows “un-Islamic”.

Asked about the move, Karzai told a media briefing his government was committed to media freedom ...BUT... like the rest of the countries in the world, we want our television broadcasting to be in line with our culture, based on our society moral standards,

 

15th February
2009
  

Offsite: PixelAsian...

Afghan TV stations find censorship line is blurry

Tolo TV logo The young Afghan woman in a headscarf spends all day staring at other women's bodies and Hindu idols on her computer screen, then covering them up.

It's Laila Rastagar's job to turn Indian and Korean soap operas into family viewing in this conservative Muslim country. Dual flat-screen monitors illuminate the 22-year-old's face in the dark cubicle as she draws a blurry square with her mouse to obscure a collarbone, then a kneecap, then a Buddha statue.

She's one of a crew of such editors employed by Tolo TV, Afghanistan's most popular station, to censor shows in an attempt to balance its programming at the intersection of radical Islam, traditional values and the West.

...Read full article

 

15th March
2009
  

Update: Burkhas Off at Dawn...

Afghan TV station defiant of government censorship threats

Afghanistan flag A new private Kabul television station, Emrooz, has made a name for itself by airing entertainment and music programs mainly focused on youth.

But the upstart broadcaster's quest for ratings has earned the wrath of authorities, with prosecutors accusing it of undermining Afghan society's traditional Islamic values and influential detractors threatening to revoke its broadcast license.

Critics are upset at the station for broadcasting scenes and clips of immodestly dressed women, notably Tajik and Indian singers and dancers.

Emrooz staff were questioned by Kabul prosecutors this week.

Fahim Kohdamani, a program editor at Emrooz, tells RFE/RL that station managers were repeatedly summoned by the Information and Culture Ministry before their case was referred to the Office of the Prosecutor-General.

Emrooz is the only Afghan television that does not censor music clips, Kohdamani says: We air video clips by Tajik, Iranian, Afghan, Indian, and even sometimes Arab and European music clips that show female and male performers signing and dancing. The Ministry of Culture has always had this problem with us.

Emrooz producers insist they have violated no laws but are being forced to choose between overly aggressive self-censorship and even more rigid censorship by government agencies.

Despite Emrooz's pending legal wrangle, and the threat of a lost television license for the station and lost freedom for some individuals within the company, Emrooz appears defiant.

The station is launching a national search for male and female models. The show will be broadcast monthly, with more than 2,000 contestants competing for two top prizes over four months. It will be Afghanistan's first publicly declared fashion program -- and it has already incurred threats.

But Emrooz executives, defiant in the face of such threats, say they will continue to break down taboos -- even if they must pay a price for doing so.

 

25th March
2009
  

Update: The Right to Bare Arms...

Afghan TV station manager arrested over short skirts on TV

Afghanistan flag The manager of an Afghan television network who refused to censor images of women dancing in short skirts and plunging necklines has been arrested.

The government has previously censured television stations and taken others to court, but the arrest of Emrose TV's Fahim Khodamani was the first for airing overly salacious content, the Afghan deputy attorney general said Tuesday.

Since the Taliban fell in 2001, television stations have flourished, pitting the issue of freedom of the press against conservative norms in a country where most women wear clothes that cover everything but their face and neck.

Aggressive Afghan government attempts to censor TV programs could be part of a strategy to temper conflict with the Taliban. Or it could be an attempt to siphon support from Afghans drawn to the Taliban's conservative style of Islam.

Many Afghan TV stations cut or blur scenes with women showing more than their face or neck, taking a conservative stance to avoid violating a vague government law that prohibits media content that is not within the framework of Islam.

Khodamani was arrested for refusing repeated requests to pixelate or otherwise obscure images of women dancing in short skirts or outfits with low necklines, said Deputy Attorney General Fazel Ahmad Faqiyar. The videos are relatively tame by Western standards.

The arrest comes days after Afghanistan's top Muslim clerics called on the government to block stations from airing prohibited and hypocritical anti-Islam programs and immoral scenes and movies.

 

18th September
2012

 Update: A Culture of Inappropriateness...

Afghanistan TV channels in trouble for supposedly inappropriate music videos

saba tv logo The Afghan Ministry of Culture and Information has brought legal proceedings against two popular entertainment television channels.

The ministry said Setara TV and Saba TV had broadcast inappropriate content, including revealing foreign music videos.

The ministry said the content violated a new media law, which bans programs that are deemed an affront to Afghan culture.

 

25th April
2013

  Surely There Can't be Anything Left to Ban...

Afghan clerics ask for televised drama to be banned

Afghanistan flagAfgahanistan's President Hamid Karzai has ordered further censorship of supposedly un-Islamic and obscene televisions shows in response to lobbying by the country's religious council.

Karzai told the culture ministry to block programs which are vulgar, un-Islamic, obscene and violate social morality, and Islamic morality , according to a statement from his Council of Ministers.

It said the move follows a request from the religious council to ban televised drama seen as promoting vice and prostitution.

There doesn't seem to be any details of the type of programmes which might be banned as a result of the order.

 

27th October
2013

 Update: Tit for Tat...

Afghan clerics refuse to condemn suicide bombing unless TV is censored more
Afghanistan flag Afghanistan's muslim Ulema Council claims that  immoral shows on television pose a greater danger to the country than do suicide bombers.

The spokesman of the council, Faroq Husseini, warned that if immoral shows were not prevented the clerics would not denounce suicide attacks any more.