Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Taliban demand freedom of speech, condemn ban on attack cover

- (Afghan widows in Kabul. Picture by Ahmad Masood)

(Afghan widows in Kabul. Picture by Ahmad Masood)

Afghanistan’s Taliban have condemned a government plan to ban live coverage of their attacks, saying the measure was a violation of free speech.   For a group that had itself banned television, not to mention music during its rule from 1996 to 2001, that’s pretty rich irony.

On Monday, Afghan authorities announced a ban on filming of live attacks, saying such images emboldened the  militants who have launched strikes around the country just as NATO forces are in the middle of an offensive. A day later, officials promised to clarify the restrictions, and hinted they may row back from the most draconian measures.

But the Taliban appeared to have been stung to the quick and said that the ban was “an action against the recognized principles of freedom of speech” according to these reports. “By imposing the ban on the coverage of independent news organizations, the puppet government tries to hide its failure in face-to-face fights with the mujahedin in all corners of the country,” the Taliban were quoted as saying.

The United States has also expressed concern over the Afghan government’s move as have news organisations and rights groups.