Afghanistan: Strict self-censorship on Afghan music tv

10 January 2006

“If I play that, I’ll get a letter the next day. Then, I’m out,” television producer Jamshid Matin told the Journal News on a visit in USA in November, 2005. Now back in Kabul, Jamshid was interviewed by Freemuse.

By Ole Reitov, Freemuse

How do you see the limits of freedom of expression for music presenters and musicians in Afghanistan today?

– Freedom of expression for music presenters and musicians up til now has been a big problem in Afghanistan because it is linked to the political situation and questions of national security. The government is always playing two faces. Here they are saying we have freedom of speech and free media, but at the same time they are protecting the fundamentalists and Islamic extremists. So it’s quite difficult to work in this situation; I think we are playing with our lives regarding the job we have in a country like Afghanistan, because a war has been going on in this country for the past 23 years.

How are women singers and musicians looked upon? Which opportunities do they have in Afghan media?

– There are some good opportunities for women working in printed media but working in tv and radio is very difficult. Women face a lot of problems and… female singers are not allowed to sing on tv. Also if they sing other places they risk their life.

Jamshid, you present two weekly music shows at ATN. How do the young presenters discuss which music to present and not to present?

– I want to introduce different types of music from all over the world for my people to show them what music is. We can develop our music by learning from others, but music is being censored in Afghanistan. We cannot show our viewers what we want – we have to follow the order of the government and high court. But I believe that a music presenter should be allowed to show the music he wants on his program.

Which are the most essential questions for musicians and the music life of Afghanistan today?

– They want a situation where they feel safe, so that they can develop their music and the culture of music in Afghanistan, because if the situation continues like this music in Afghanistan is going to die. The people that are working on this issue feel that they are like victims and they don’t know what will happen to them. An example of this is the case of Shakeb Isaar.

Jamshid Matin – television producer: “If the situation continues like this, music in Afghanistan is going to die…”
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