Afghanistan: Restrictions on music discussed in parliament

2 April 2008

On 1 April 2008 a commission for cultural and religious affairs in Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament suggested to impose new restrictions on music and dance performance in Afghanistan.

By Samay Hamed reporting for Freemuse from Kabul

The main articles in the proposal from the commission for cultural and religious affairs were:

    1.  Women’s singing is not allowed in Islam and therefore it is to be forbidden in Afghanistan.

2.  Songs performed on video with pictures of women is to be forbidden.
(It is common in Afghanistan to have video clips with pictures of dancing girls)

3.  Afghan organisations and individuals are not allowed to invite female international singers and dancers to Afghanistan.
(Female singers from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have been invited to perform in Afghanistan several times)

The lower house of parliament has not yet taken any decision about these suggestions. Most of extremist members are supporting it and they are doing lobby-work to ensure its approval.

Call for closure of tv station
A week earlier, the private Tolo TV broadcasted an annual Afghan film award show in which a male artist performed a dance together with a group of girls. After this extremist members of the parliament asked the Afghan Minister of Culture and Information to close Tolo TV. The official reaction from the Ministry of Culture and Information so far has been to send a letter to Tolo TV in which it called the dancing in the programme “an anti-Islamic action”.

“It’s the re-Talibanisation of Afghan society,” Tolo TV’s owner Saad Mohseni said to Associated Press: “Every single week they come up with something new.”

According to an article about the issues by the Associated Press, Mohseni called on the Afghan government and the international community to take a stand against the religious conservatives, saying they “cannot allow a very small minority within Afghan society to call the shots.”

“It is regrettable that, through the Ministry of Information and Culture, the government is supporting a campaign launched by fundamentalists against privately-owned tv stations. We urge information and culture minister Abdulkarim Khoram to take back what he has said and to stop interfering in Afghan television content. We express our full support for Tolo TV, to which we gave an award in 2005 for its commitment to free expression,” stated the press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders.

Read more

Associated Press – 1 April 2008:

‘Afghanistan Moves to Censor TV’

Reporters Without Borders – 1 April 2008:

‘Afghanistan – New offensive against privately-owned TV stations by information ministry and Council of Ulemas’

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