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Taleban telly ban

BBC News, 8 July 1998

The Taleban movement in Afghanistan has given residents 15 days to throw out their television sets, videos and satellite dishes in line with its version of Islam.

After the deadline, militia will confiscate and destroy televisions because, Taleban radio said, film and music leads to moral corruption.

The Taleban's self-styled ministry for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice says the move is necessary because people in Taleban-controlled areas are still watching television despite previous bans.

The fiercely Islamic Taleban took power in Kabul in 1996 and control over two-thirds of the country. In the past, the Taleban authorities have smashed or even publicly hanged television sets and burned stocks of cinema films declaring them to be un-Islamic.

Polluting society

But they allowed people to keep TVs and videos as long as they were not using them, as well as tolerating the smuggling of Japanese televisions through Afghanistan to Pakistan.

Spot the aerial: Kabul has been declared a TV-free zone

Now they say a harder line is necessary, as large numbers of people, particularly the young, continue to watch videos and satellite channels. According to a senior Taleban official, such un-Islamic acts are polluting society and distracting people from worshipping God.

But correspondents say hundreds of households still secretly watch television through satellite dishes made from bicycle wheels, cooking pots or electric fans. The move will be a blow to ordinary Afghans who depend on surreptitious TV viewing or illegal Hindi videos for their only entertainment in a land blighted by war and poverty.