- Title: Actions or words? Afghan journalists question Taliban's free press pledge
- Date: 19th August 2021
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (AUGUST 19, 2021) (REUTERS VIA ZOOM) (SOUNDBITE) (English) SAAD MOHSENI, HEAD OF MOBY MEDIA GROUP WHICH RUNS AFGHANISTAN'S LARGEST PRIVATE BROADCASTER 'TOLONEWS,' SAYING: "And media is not going to be a priority for them (Taliban) unless you're really out there undermining their rule. I think in that case, they could just step in and basically shut you down. So, you know there's the sort of laissez-faire approach is more a reflection of not having enough bandwidth for a specific policy that they would allow media to carry on business as usual, as they have been over the last two decades. So I wouldn't get too excited. It's only been like, you know, seventy-two hours, I mean, it's since they took over the city and it's just ... their senior officials are just arriving in Kabul, you know, like now."
- Embargoed: 2nd September 2021 21:41
- Keywords: Afghanistan ToloNews media MOBY
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM/KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM/KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
- Country: Afghanistan
- Topics: Asia / Pacific,Conflicts/War/Peace,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA002EQY4ZT3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Beaten, homes raided, turned away from work for being a woman: the complaints made by some Afghan journalists in recent days are sowing doubt about assurances made by their new Taliban rulers that independent media would be allowed.
In its first press conference since capturing the capital Kabul, the Islamist militant movement said on Tuesday (August 17) it would allow free media and jobs for women - banned when it was last in power from 1996 to 2001.
Several journalists and media watchdogs have reported incidents of Afghan journalists being beaten, harassed or raided at their homes in recent days.
Saad Mohseni, the head of media group MOBY which runs Afghanistan's largest private broadcaster ToloNews, told Reuters his journalists had not been harmed since the Taliban came to power, and that his female reporters continued to work.
In one Tolo broadcast this week that would have been unthinkable during the Taliban's previous rule, a female Tolo presenter interviewed a Taliban official.
Still, Mohseni said the future remained uncertain.
"The laissez-faire approach is more a reflection of not having enough bandwidth than a specific policy that they (the Taliban) will allow media to carry on business as usual," he said.
"So I wouldn't get too excited. It's only been 72 hours since they took over the city."
The Coalition for Women in Journalism, an international advocacy group, said they had been inundated with requests for help from female journalists in Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power, and were in contact with multiple women who said they felt threatened in their homes.
An editor at Pajhwok News Agency in Kabul said on condition of anonymity that a Taliban official had advised his 18 female reporters to work from home until the movement had finalized its rules on women at work.
The Taliban's spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Tuesday that media must not work against Islamic or national "values", and that women could work "within the framework of Islam."
Some journalists worry that restrictions and censorship could deal a blow to a flourishing Afghan media scene that has changed dramatically since the Taliban were last in power.
From a time when a single state-owned radio station broadcast mainly calls to prayer and religious teachings, the country now has an estimated 170 radio stations, over 100 newspapers and dozens of TV stations.
Some residents say things are already changing, with TV stations removing music and entertainment shows and Western programs.
(Production: Ken Li, Omar Younis)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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