Taliban Orders Afghanistan Female TV Presenters To Cover Their Faces

Female TV presenters in Afghanistan have appeared on air with their faces covered after the Taliban ordered them to do so or face punishment.

Some broadcasters had refused to follow the new rules when they came into force yesterday, but did so today under pressure from the country’s government.

Women on TV in Afghanistan have presented programmes wearing hijabs, but a new edict ruling that all women must wear a face veil in public or risk punishment was extended to TV presenters from Saturday, meaning they now have to cover their mouths and nose as well.

The move, which has been heavily criticised by female presenters, is the latest in a series of crackdowns on women’s freedoms in the central Asian country since the Taliban overthrew the Government last year.

Sonia Niazi, a presenter on local TV station TOLOnews, appeared on her show wearing a mask, but hit out at the move.
‘This decree is unpredictable for all female presenters, because Islam has not commanded us to do so (cover our faces) and neither are we given such information in Islam, and every Islamic scholar and political figure has opposed this decree,’ she said.

‘A presenter must feel totally calm and relaxed during the (news) presentation to convey the truth to the people, (but) today for the first time I experienced a moment where I had to present my program wearing a mask and I wasn’t feeling good at all.

‘If such decrees are issued and imposed on women, then women across Afghanistan will be eliminated, as we see now that women are being gradually eliminated.’

Her colleague Farida Sial told the BBC the international community should put pressure on the Taliban to change course.

‘They want to erase women from social and political life,’ she said.

‘It’s OK that we are Muslims, we are wearing hijab, we hide our hair, but it’s very difficult for a presenter to cover their face for two or three hours consecutively and talk like that.’

A spokesperson for the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue, Akif Muhajer, described the move as ‘advice’, telling Reuters: ‘the last date for face covering for TV presenters is May 21.’

Muhajer did not respond to a query on the consequences of not following the advice.

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