Women TV presenters cover faces in Afghanistan day after defying edict

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Women TV presenters cover faces in Afghanistan day after defying edict

The Taliban made face veils mandatory for all Afghan women appearing in public, including those on television, reported DW, quoting news agencies AP, AFP and dpa.

This edict was ignored by presenters on Saturday, but they relented on Sunday.

All female television presenters and reporters in Afghanistan obeyed a Taliban order to wear face coverings just one day after flouting the edict.

Broadcasters had hoped their united front on Saturday would convince Taliban authorities to reverse the order but the hard-liners insisted it was final and not up for discussion.

The information and culture ministry said the policy was "final and non-negotiable."

'I can't breathe nor talk properly,' says anchor

TV anchor with TOLOnews Sonia Niazi expressed her frustration with the edict.

"It is just an outside culture imposed on us forcing us to wear a mask and that can create a problem for us while presenting our programs,'' she said.

"We are in a deep grief today," TOLOnews chief editor Khpolwak Safi wrote on Facebook.

Safi shared an image in which male journalists at the news channel covered their faces with black face masks in solidarity with their female colleagues.

"I can't breathe nor talk properly. How will I be able to run the program?" said Khatira Ahmadi, a female presenter of TOLOnews.

Addressing the policy during a live production, Basira Joya, a female host at Ariana News, said that Islam has not imposed anything on anyone by force.

"We are fighting and continuing our work, even in a burqa. Nothing can stop us," she commented while squeezing her throat.

TOLOnews director Lotfullah Najafizada posted an image on Twitter of a presenter with her face covered, saying: "Never imagined this day!"

Change in stance

During the Taliban's last stint in power, from 1996-2001, they imposed an array of restrictions on women, requiring them to wear the all-encompassing burqa and barring them from public life and education.

After they seized power again in August, the hard-line government's previous stance appeared to have softened, announcing no dress code for women. But in recent weeks, they have made a u-turn on the policy, confirming the worst fears of rights activists and further complicated the Taliban's relations with the international community.

Since the Taliban returned to power, the fundamentalist group governing Afghanistan has also imposed severe restrictions on media outlets, clamping down on human rights.

Journalists have been beaten and detained over their work. Girls and women have been deprived of many of their rights, including education, work and movement.

Television channels have already stopped showing dramas and soap operas featuring women, on the order of Taliban authorities.

Women TV presenters cover faces in Afghanistan day after defying edict

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