BBC News, Jan. 21, 2003

Afghan Chief Justice Bans Cable TV

Cable television services in the Afghan capital, Kabul, have been temporarily closed following a ruling by the country's chief justice. Fazel Hadi Shinwari closed cable TV in one district of Kabul and rejected an appeal against a recent ban in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

The country's top legal figure has also spoken out against the co-education of boys and girls.


Mr Shinwari said he had issued the order against cable TV after dozens of complaints about un-Islamic programmes.

"People who filed complaints to the Supreme Court said they were airing half-naked singers and obscene scenes from movies," he said.

"We are Afghans, we are Muslims, we have Islamic laws and values in our country."

Mr Shinwari added: "As a responsible official I cannot allow cable TV in any part of Afghanistan."

On the separate issue of co-education, the chief justice told the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press that teaching adolescent boys and girls together was not allowed.

He said it was forbidden under Islamic law.

He made the comments when asked about moves by Ismail Khan, the powerful governor of Herat province, to restrict education for girls.

The court had banned the sole cable operator in Jalalabad in mid-December, condemning the broadcast of foreign films as "totally against Islam and Afghan culture".

Mohammad Humayun, director of Jalalabad's Afghan Cable Centre, had sought a lifting of the ban.

Mr Humayun's channels included CNN, the BBC, the Qatar-based Arabic-language network al-Jazeera and dance and movie channels.

Kabul cable owners said they had started operations on licences received from the new interim government.

One said: "There seems to be a contradiction here. They knew what sort of programmes we were running when we got the licence."

Another described it as part of a struggle between the Islamists and pro-Western elements in the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Television was completely banned by the former Taleban rulers, as were many other forms of entertainment.

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