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Monday, 19 November, 2001, 16:35 GMT
Kabul goes film crazy
Crowd waiting to enter cinema
Crowds waited calmly - until the gates were opened
Kabul's first cinema reopened on Monday, allowing excited residents their first chance to go to the movies since the Taleban banned films five years ago.

Thousands of people waited patiently for the doors of the Bakhtar cinema to open, then stormed the building in the rush for seats.


Everyone is so excited, some hardly remember what cinema is like, we're so happy to be here

Cinema goer
But in a sign that some things have not changed since the Northern Alliance took power from the Taleban last week, women were not allowed inside.

The cinema's reopening comes one day after Kabul TV went back on the air, as a semblance of normality returned to the capital.

Excited

One excited cinema-goer told the Associated Press: "When the Taleban came to power, we couldn't go to the cinema, they stopped us from enjoying ourselves. We have waited so long for this chance. Everyone is so excited, some hardly remember what cinema is like, we're so happy to be here!"

Crowd storms cinema gates
There was a charge for tickets
The Bakhtar is Kabul's largest cinema, but the crowd easily filled its 650 seats, forcing many people to sit in the aisles.

Two films were shown, a classic Afghan movie Urudj, about mujahideen guerrillas fighting the Soviet occupation, and an Indian film Elan.

The Bakhtar's manager Mohammad Rafi told the Agence France Press news agency: "There were 17 cinemas in Kabul but they were all closed when the Taleban came to power in 1996. I'm very proud that we are the first to reopen our doors".

Under Taleban rule, the screening of any images was treated as idolatrous.

The cinema had fallen into disuse during the Taleban's rule.

AFP's reporter said its rows of wooden seats were dilapidated, the ceiling was full of holes and the projection screen had had to be patched up.

See also:

18 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghan TV back on air
16 Oct 01 | Media reports
Mediawatch: Radio reaches out to women
30 Jul 98 | South Asia
Taleban telly task force
20 Jul 99 | South Asia
TV beatsTaleban telly-ban
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