CULTIVATING LIBERALISM
FOR ALL CLIMATES
SINCE 1759
 
Google
 

Free alert to Candide's Notebooks
Your email:

JOIN ME AT MY BULLSHIT SITES

Press Noose
Afghanistan’s Descent

They want their Tolo TV

Afghanistan has its own Alberto Gonzales: When Afghan Attorney General Abdul Jabar Sabit saw his comments quoted in bad light on Tolo TV, a popular Afghan channel, he sent government thugs to the television station, beat up various members of the staff and briefly arrested three journalists. The information minister not only came to the attorney general’s defense. He ordered Tolo TV to apologize. The station refused, filing instead a complaint with the Supreme Court, and demanded the immediate resignation of the attorney general (you can see Tolo TV’s legal adviser making that demand in a local language, here.)

“ Press freedom,” Reporters Without Borders tells us, “is one of the few achievements of the five years since the fall of the Taliban regime.” Not for long. “Afghanistan’s government,” the Times’ Carlotta Gall writes, “competing with the Taliban for public support and trying to fend off accusations that it is corrupt and ineffective, is moving to curb one of its own most impressive achievements: the country’s flourishing independent news media.” Gall describes the attorney general’s Gonzales moment and reports on a proposal probably pushed by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, to “prohibit coverage seen as violating the provisions of Islam or insulting other religions, as well as coverage that insults individuals or corporations, without allowing truth as a defense. It would also prohibit coverage seen as endangering national stability, security or sovereignty.”

Oddly, Gall doesn’t mention one egregious abuse of press freedom: the ban, since mid-April, on retransmission of al-Jazeera (it’s not a total ban: people who can afford a satellite dish can still get the station, but most people can’t). Nor is it the first “revision” by the government of Afghanistan’s alleged press freedoms. In March 2004 Karzai signed “a revised press law that contains a sanction against publication of ‘matters contrary to the principles of Islam or offensive to other religions and sects.’” There was the case of Ali Mohaqiq Nasab , editor of a monthly focused on women’s rights, who in 2005 got a two-year prison sentence for questioned the harshness of certain punishments under Shari’a law, such as the stoning to death of women found guilty of adultery, and arguing that it shouldn’t be a crime to give up Islam (as it is under Sharia law). There was the case of Abdel Rahman, a long-time converted from Islam to Christianity, who found himself in a Kabul court facing the death penalty for it in the spring of 2006. And earlier this year, there was the Afghan government’s ban of “Kabul Express,” a movie actually critical of Taliban rule.

Old perceptions cling on. The Afghanistan reconstituted from the temporary ashes of Taliban rule after 2001 is not the Afghanistan that has been slowly returning to chaotic since. I don’t know what’s scarier about that opening paragraph in Gall’s piece, the fact that the Karzai government is so corrupt that it’s losing what little grip it had on the nation, or the fact that it is “competing with the Taliban for public support.” If Afghanistan is still susceptible to such a competition, no need to wonder much further: the battle is lost.

Bookmark and Share

| Back to the Front Page  
 
THE DAILY JOURNAL
Read Pierre’s Latest at


 
The Latest Comments
 
GOOGLE GOOGLE NEW YORK TIMES NEWSPAPERS NETFLIX UK INDEPENDENT NETFLIX
 
  
RECENTLY IN THE DAILY JOURNAL: NOTEBOOKS ORIGINALS
RECENTLY IN THE DAILY JOURNAL: CRUMBS & CRIBS

   
 
Add to Google Reader or Homepage Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe in Rojo   Add to My AOL Subscribe in FeedLounge Add to netvibes Subscribe in Bloglines Add to The Free Dictionary