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 Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 11:52 GMT
Afghans ban 'obscene' TV
Indian film Devdas
Indian films are very popular in Afghanistan
Afghanistan's Supreme Court has banned cable television stations in the eastern city of Jalalabad because they have been showing films it considers un-Islamic.

The court ruled that cable operators were showing "obscene" Western and Indian films and said they were totally against Islam, Afghan culture and the spirit of jihad (holy war).

Film being edited
Afghan TV is only just re-emerging
The governor of Nangahar province - of which Jalalabad is the capital - has ordered the security services to implement the ruling immediately.

The court also directed state-run local radio and television not to broadcast any programme deemed to be against Islam and Afghan culture.

'No singing'

Television in Afghanistan was restarted in January after a total ban - imposed by the country's former Taleban rulers - took it off the air for almost five years.

In August, officials in Kabul banned Indian films from being shown on mainstream television and ruled that radio must not broadcast women singing.

Broken satellite dish on Television Afghanistan
Much of the broadcasting equipment was destroyed during fighting
But their popularity had continued on the country's small but emerging cable television network.

Indian films, with their mix of melodrama, romance and songs have become hugely popular since the fall of the Taleban, who banned music and television.

Sensitive issue

Moves to censor some material from the broadcast media have been seen as a sign of the continuing struggle for influence between Islamists and moderates.

Media restrictions are a sensitive issue for the government, which has generally followed a more liberal course following Taleban rule under which public music and television were banned.

Ironically, Indian films and images of women singing are regularly shown in Kandahar, the deeply conservative former Taleban stronghold, and until now, the films and programmes have been widely watched in Jalalabad.

There are still very few television sets in Afghanistan and only a handful of Afghans are able to afford one.

The national network, Television Afghanistan, has been regarded as being at the forefront of liberalism.


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09 Feb 02 | South Asia
19 Nov 01 | South Asia
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29 Jan 02 | South Asia
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