Taliban compromise with TV ‘idolatryÂ’
ISLAMABAD- Television may be banned under the Taliban’s Islamic law, but the embattled Afghan regime is far from oblivious to the potency of the broadcast media in times of conflict.
Over the weekend, the Taliban temporarily lifted a ban on foreign media and invited television crews based in neighboring Pakistan to film the devastation left by US bombs in a village in an attack, which the Taliban claimed, left some 200 civilians dead.
The invitation to visit the village of Kadam, near the eastern city of Jalalabad, came despite the fact television has been banned as a form of idolatry in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.
Photographing human beings is also outlawed under the Taliban’s version of Sharia, or Islamic law.
Every law has its exception, however, and the Taliban have quickly realized that the foreign media, in particular television, can be used to help drum up sympathy in the Muslim world and mobilize international concern over civilian casualties in Afghanistan during the US-led ‘war on terrorism.’
All foreigners, including foreign journalists, were ordered by the Taliban to leave the country one week after the September 11, terrorist attacks on the United States blamed on Saudi-born Osama bin Laden.
A Cable News Network (CNN) correspondent managed to remain behind in the Afghan capital Kabul for a couple of days but was also eventually forced to join the exodus of foreign journalists and foreign aid workers.
The only foreign media currently reporting from Kabul are the Qatar based satellite television station Al-Jazeera and the three news agencies Agence France Presse, Associated Press and Reuters.
Frustration over the inability to report events on the ground has led to extraordinary clandestine efforts by a number of foreign journalists to attempt to enter Afghanistan from Pakistan.
Two journalists have been arrested by the Taliban after entering Afghanistan disguised under burqas, the head-to-toe veils worn by Afghan women.
Britain Yvonne Ridley of the Sunday Express was expelled from the country after 10 days in detention.
Frenchman Michel Peyrard of Paris Match, arrested last week, could be charged with spying, a, charge which carries the death penalty.
On Friday, half-a-dozen foreign television networks were invited by the Taliban embassy in Islamabad to view the destruction in Kadam village, only to find that they had been scooped once again by Al-Jazeera.
Source: The Nation