Taliban has asked Afghan TV channels to stop airing programming starring women

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“These are not rules, but religious guidelines,” said Hakif Mohajir, a spokesman for the ministry for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice.

The Taliban also called on women television journalists to wear Islamic hijabs while delivering their stories in the first such instruction to Afghan media issued by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. The ministry also requested that no films or programs featuring the Prophet Mohammed or other respected figures be shown. It advocated for the outlawing of films or programs that were antithetical to Islamic and Afghan principles.

‘These are religious guidelines, not rules,’ ministry spokesperson Hakif Mohajir told AFP. Late Sunday, the new rule was widely distributed on social media networks. Despite promising to rule more moderately this time, the Taliban have already imposed restrictions on what women can wear to university and have battered and harassed many Afghan journalists, despite swearing to respect press freedoms. After two decades of spectacular expansion for independent Afghan media under Western-backed regimes that ruled the country until August 15, when the Islamists reclaimed power, the Taliban issued a guideline for TV networks.

Soon after the Taliban were deposed in 2001, dozens of television and radio stations were established with Western support and private funding. Afghan television channels have broadcast a diverse range of programs over the last two decades, including an “American Idol”-style singing competition, music videos, and Turkish and Indian soap operas. There was no Afghan media during the Islamists’ previous administration, which lasted from 1996 to 2001; they outlawed television, movies, and most other forms of entertainment, believing them sinful.

People who were caught viewing television were subjected to harsh punishments, including having their television set shattered. The possession of a video player may result in public flogging. Only one radio station, Voice of Sharia, broadcasted pro-Islamic propaganda and programming.

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