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Report: Media in Afghanistan Fears Censorship After Taliban Takes Control

Photo by Sohaib Ghyasi in Kabul via Unsplash

Report: Media in Afghanistan Fears Censorship After Taliban Takes Control

By Movieguide® Staff

As the Taliban gains control in Afghanistan after President Joe Biden ordered the withdrawal of all U.S. presence, the media fears censorship.

Author and journalist Hollie McKay returned to Afghanistan to report the events leading up to and post the U.S. troop withdrawal in an article published with Deadline.

“The Taliban knows we are still here in our office, they are out in the streets, and they know that we are here and we are reporting,” Mujib Merdad, editor-in-chief of Afghanistan’s premiere news and lifestyle magazine 8 am Daily, told McKay. “But we are feeling the pressure. We are waiting for them to come. In the blink of an eye, everything we knew and loved about our jobs was gone.”

McKay noted that what progress made in Afghanistan over the past 20 years vanished as soon as Biden made his announcement.

“Immediately after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban regime less than a week ago, Merdad’s publication — which just four years ago made waves in the Muslim world for featuring a cover model sans the hijab — is on the brink of being no more,” McKay wrote.

McKay said that the media is resorting to self-censorship to avoid the unnecessary run-ins with the Taliban.

“We have stopped all editorial and op-eds, now just very straight news, and we are very careful not to publish the criticisms and opinions,” Merdad said. “And the ladies in our office must work from home. It is not safe for them to come here.”

However, the overnight change affected news and media as a whole, according to McKay.

“It’s the devastating scenario for Afghanistan’s free and independent press, which served as one of the slim silver linings in the United States’ two-decade occupation. After pushing the Taliban from power in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Washington spent millions in building and bolstering the beleaguered country’s press corps, internet access and protection – which seems to have gone up in smoke in a matter of minutes,” she wrote.

She continued: “In what almost feels like a bygone era, Afghanistan’s media landscape was awash with programming of every kind, from Turkish soap operas and music videos to adventure sports and beauty-driven talk shows. But in the act of fear and self-preservation, all stations immediately pulled such entertainment and music shows off the air.”

“Everyone in the media community is trying to leave this country. No one is sure about anything, and we don’t see any hope in surviving in this country. We can’t even go to the banks,” Merdad said. “And we rely on donations to keep going; we get very little revenue from advertising.”

Saad Mohseni, chief executive of Moby Media Group, said he is unsure what the Taliban will do regarding free speech.

“We have to wait and see; they have this opportunity to accept free press. It would be good for them to have an open and free media so that they can hold individuals and institutions accountable,” Mohseni told McKay. “It serves the nation and helps everyone.”

“Will the country be safe for journalists? If it is a repeat of the 1990s, I don’t think journalists will stay,” Mohseni added. “But ultimately, nobody wants to leave their home country.”

McKay also worries that the Taliban’s control over the media could drastically affect the millions of young Afghans who spend hours scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

“What edicts the Taliban will slap on social media usage is another looming wild card. The Taliban themselves use it to broadcast their directives, and the younger subset of fighters I saw scattered across the northern provinces, seemingly spend much of their days and nights scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp is the norm,” she wrote.”’I am scared and devastated,’ one writer friend, Zaki, wrote huddled in his dank basement. ‘Everything we believed in has gone.’”

Read Also: Angelina Jolie Calls Biden’s Decision to Withdraw From Afghanistan ‘A Failure Impossible to Understand’

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4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.