Newswatch | Newswatch

You are here

TV presenters arrested in Kabul over anti-Islamic programmes and Taliban interview

Afghan policemen outside the Bagram airbase, 50 km north of Kabul, on March 4. Taliban fighters ambushed a police vehicle in southern Afghanistan on Monday, killing eight policemen, a senior official said, in the latest in a surge of attacks after winter.Photo: Agence France-Presse (AFP) / Shah Marai

Two commercial TV presenters, Fahim Kohdamani of Emroz and Ajmal Alamzai of Ariana TV, were arrested in Kabul on Monday. Alamzai was released late Monday night but Kohdamani is still being held, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported.

“We call for Kohdamani’s immediate and unconditional release,” Paris-based said. “The Afghan government has again failed to respect press freedom, arbitrarily arresting journalists who have done nothing wrong.”

Kohdamani was arrested at the behest of the Kabul prosecutor for broadcasting music and hosting an entertainment programme called “Biya wa Bibin” (Come and See). The prosecutor has accused him of broadcasting “anti-Islamic” and “vulgar” programmes.

His arrest appears to be linked to letters which clerics sent to President Hamid Karzai accusing Emroz of failing to respect “religious values” for broadcasting music on January 7, the day of the commemoration of the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, regarded by Shiites as the Third Imam.

The head of Emroz, Najeebullah Kabuli, told RSF he thought the arrest was a reflection of political interests including the involvement of neighbouring countries. Other TV stations have broadcast Indian music and TV series without encountering such problems.

The host of Ariana TV’s programme Didadgah, Alamzai was arrested by the National Directorate of Security in connection with a report consisting primarily of interviews with former Taliban representatives in Kabul in which he made a direct call to a Taliban spokesman to ask for his reaction. He was freed at around midnight Monday night.

The head of Ariana TV, Ehsanollah Aryanzai, told RSF: “The programme dealt with Barak Obama’s comment about ‘dialogue with the moderate Taliban’ and did not endanger Afghanistan’s security. The arrest was illegal because the journalist was virtually kidnapped on the street and no one was told. Furthermore, the opinion of the Commission for Verifying Media Misconduct is necessary before arresting any journalist.”

Date posted: March 25, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 548