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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Afghan journalists face an intolerant regime that has changed everything overnight.

Shows that were once popular have been pulled off the airways. According to a news source, a pregnant police officer who was allegedly tragically shot by the Taliban was excised from the broadcast by a television channel. Anti-Taliban shouts were being broadcast during protests in the capital, according to a radio editor who instructed his colleagues to take them off.

Afghan freedom of expression and media sector, which was previously heralded as a national success storey and hailed as one of the country’s most significant accomplishments of the last two decades, has been completely changed since the Taliban took control of the country. Physical attacks, self-censorship, and a shrinking journalist population have all put the country’s existence in jeopardy less than a month after the Taliban took control of Kabul, the capital, and started implementing its hard-line Islamist principles.

Taliban’s crackdown on free expression became even more apparent on Wednesday, when two Afghan journalists were arrested and brutally beaten while covering a demonstration in Kabul, according to local media. Photos showing the backsides of both reporters, which were marred with bruises and gashes from being beaten repeatedly with wires, sparked an international uproar and prompted the government to apologise.

The New York Times interviewed more than a dozen Afghan journalists, media workers, and advocacy groups, all of whom said that local television networks, newspapers, and news websites have continued to cover the country under the shadow of fear, intimidation, and self-censorship — all while struggling to deliver news despite the Taliban issuing very little information.

Despite the fact that the Taliban have not yet issued specific instructions for the media, they have stated that all Afghan outlets should refocus their coverage on Islamic laws and national interests, both of which are vaguely defined terms that could easily pave the way for the persecution of journalists who are critical of the new government.

Following the fall of the last administration in mid-August, hundreds of media employees, including dozens of journalists, were forced to flee the country, according to a tally compiled by The Times. According to Ahmad Quriashi, the head of Afghanistan Journalists Center, a media assistance group, more than half of Afghanistan’s media organisations have suspended operations due to safety concerns, an unclear future, and financial difficulties, among other reasons.

Afghans working by US media companies were eligible for resettlement in the United States as part of a refugee programme extended by the United States State Department in early August, resulting in an increase in the number of Afghans fleeing to the United States.

Afghan media may or may not be able to regain the independence it has acquired over the last two decades as a consequence of this situation as a result.

David Faber
David Faber
I am a Business Journalist of The National Era
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