Taliban authorities issued a new "religious guideline" to Afghanistan's television channels to stop showing dramas and daily soap operas featuring female actors. In the first such directive to the Afghan media issued by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the Taliban also called on female television journalists to wear Islamic hijabs while presenting their reports.
The ministry further asked the channels not to air films or programmes in which the Prophet Mohammed or other revered figures are shown. Ministry spokesman Hakif Mohajir clarified that these are not rules but religious guideline.
This new directive has been doing the rounds on social media since Sunday. Besides this, the Taliban have already imposed rules on what women can wear at university and have beaten and harassed several Afghan journalists despite promising to uphold press freedoms.
The Taliban released such guidelines for TV networks after two decades of explosive growth for independent Afghan media which offered a wide range of programmes like singing competitions to music videos, along with Turkish and Indian daily serials.
When the Islamists previously ruled from 1996 to 2001, there were no Afghan media to speak of--they banned television, movies, and most other forms of entertainment, deeming it immoral.
There was only one radio station, Voice of Sharia, that broadcasts propaganda and Islamic programming. People caught watching television faced punishment, including having their set smashed. Ownership of a video player could lead to a public lashing.