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Male newsreaders wear masks on Afghan TV in protest over Taliban’s demands for women to cover faces

Male newsreaders wear masks on Afghan TV in protest over Taliban’s demands for women to cover their faces on air

  • Male presenters TOLOnews wore masks in support of their female colleagues
  • It comes after Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue ordered women to cover their faces while on air
  • The crackdown is the latest move by the Taliban to enforce fundamentalist Islam

Male newsreaders have been wearing masks on Afghan TV to protest a new Taliban ruling forcing women to cover their faces on air.

Earlier this month, Afghanistan’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada issued a diktat for women to cover up fully in public, including their faces, ideally with the traditional burqa.

The feared Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice then ordered women television presenters to follow suit. 

Some refused to comply prompting a crackdown by officials.

But after dissidents were threatened with dismissal, male colleagues showed solidarity by also covering their faces.

Male newsreaders have been wearing masks on Afghan TV to protest a new Taliban ruling forcing women to cover their faces on air

Female TV presenters in Afghanistan have appeared on air with their faces covered after the Taliban ordered them to do so or face punishmen

Female TV presenters in Afghanistan have appeared on air with their faces covered after the Taliban ordered them to do so or face punishment

As well as dismissal, women who refused to comply were told that their husbands would also lose their jobs.

Presenters and journalists at TOLOnews in Kabul who wore masks confirmed it was in solidarity with the female presenters.

Sonia Niazi, a presenter on local TV station TOLOnews, appeared on her show wearing a full-face veil, but hit out at the move. 

TOLOnews is a 24-hour rolling TV news network and 1TV is a privately owned commercial TV channel both based in Kabul. 

The crackdown is the latest move by the Taliban to enforce fundamentalist Islam, where all women in public must be completely covered with a full-face veil including a cloth at eye level.

It is a further restriction on a previous rule where they were forced to cover their hair in public.

Sonia Niazi and her colleague Khatereh Ahmadi wore the coverings after the Taliban extended rules forcing women to cover their faces in public to TV presenters

Sonia Niazi and her colleague Khatereh Ahmadi wore the coverings after the Taliban extended rules forcing women to cover their faces in public to TV presenters

At the same time as stopping women working in news from appearing without a burqa, they also banned TV shows, films and soaps where women appeared unveiled.

Mohammad Sadeq Akif Mohajir, spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry for the Advancement of Welfare and Vice Prevention, said they were unconcerned by the male protest and the main thing was that the women were fulfilling their obligations as specified by the ruling.

The Taliban also ordered the dismissal of women working in government if they did not comply with the new dress code. 

Male employees are at risk of being suspended if their spouses or daughters do not comply.

Presenters and journalists at TOLOnews in Kabul who wore masks confirmed it was in solidarity with the female presenters

Presenters and journalists at TOLOnews in Kabul who wore masks confirmed it was in solidarity with the female presenters

The Taliban also ordered the dismissal of women working in government if they did not comply with the new dress code

The Taliban also ordered the dismissal of women working in government if they did not comply with the new dress code

Male employees are at risk of being suspended if their spouses or daughters do not comply

Male employees are at risk of being suspended if their spouses or daughters do not comply

The Taliban that came back to power in August last year had claimed that they did not intend to reimpose the strict restrictions that were previously in place but since then they have slowly been tightening controls on freedoms in particular for women.

Their access to education, the right to work and how they live their daily lives have become increasingly strict, forcing them to wear a full veil in the same way they did when they were in power between 1996 and 2001.

In recent months it has added restrictions limiting women’s movement without a male chaperone, while older girls have not yet been allowed to return to schools and colleges.

Members of Afghanistan's Powerful Women Movement, take part in a protest in Kabul on May 10 against rules ordering women to cover their faces when in public

Members of Afghanistan’s Powerful Women Movement, take part in a protest in Kabul on May 10 against rules ordering women to cover their faces when in public

Most Afghan women wear a headscarf for religious reasons, but many in urban areas such as Kabul do not cover their faces.

Two weeks ago gave an order that all women must wear a face covering in public.

The decree said women should leave the home only when necessary and that male relatives would face punishment for women’s dress code violations, starting with a summons and escalating to court hearings and jail time.

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