Afghan TV presenters cover their faces live in support of their colleagues

Afghan television has experienced an unusual episode this week.

Afghan TV presenters cover their faces live in support of their colleagues

Afghan television has experienced an unusual episode this week. Presenters have broadcast their respective programs with their faces covered. The reason: the Taliban regime forces women to cover their faces and the requirement also includes journalists who appear on television. Their male colleagues have wanted to show solidarity with them and denounce this measure.

Sunday was the first day that the news presenters appeared before the cameras almost completely covered, saving only their eyes and forehead. This Tuesday, seconds before starting his program, the Afghan television presenter Nisar Nabil put on a black mask, in solidarity with his female colleagues and like him, the rest of the colleagues from the main private networks.

"We take a stand to support our female colleagues," Nisar Nabil, a journalist at TOLOnews, Afghanistan's main private information network, told AFP. "In our live information programs or political broadcasts, we wear masks as a form of protest," he added, after presenting a news bulletin masked.

The obligation for women to cover their faces is just one of the restrictions imposed by the Taliban since its return to power last year as part of its fundamentalist conception of Islam, which aims to subjugate women.

At the beginning of the month, the Taliban's supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, issued an order according to which women had to cover themselves completely in public, including their faces, even with a burqa, the full-face veil with a fabric mesh at the level of eyes. Before the Taliban came to power, it was enough for women to cover their hair with a veil.

The television presenters had not followed these instructions until Sunday, after the dreaded Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice gave them an ultimatum.

Only a day later and fearing the consequences that disobedience could bring, the presenters wore full veils, revealing only their eyes and forehead, to present the newscasts on the TOLOnews, Ariana Television, Shamshad TV and 1TV networks.

To show solidarity with their colleagues and as a protest, the presenters of TOLOnews and 1TV decided to appear live on the air, covering themselves with black masks. "The Taliban want to put pressure on the media with these restrictions... They want the media to function according to their plans," lamented Nisar Nabil, who wore a tie and sported a blazer and jeans.

In the offices of 1TV, another major private network, male presenters and network employees also wear masks, while women are dressed in full veils, revealing only their eyes and forehead.

"We support our presenters, who agree to wear Islamic hijabs but do not want a mask, because it is difficult to host a program for three or four hours in this way," the network's editor-in-chief, Idrees Faroqi, told AFP. "We hope they will review their decision and remove those restrictions."

Behind him, a journalist presents a newsletter, wiping sweat from her face during breaks.

Despite the criticism, the Taliban remain firm in their decision, arguing that "if a tie can be part of a uniform (on television), why shouldn't the hijab be as well?", in the words of the spokesman. of the government, Inamullah Samangani, on Twitter.

The men who appear on television believe that it is only a matter of time before the authorities also impose clothing restrictions on them, who wear a jacket, tie and pants. On state television, by contrast, no women present the news and the men wear turbans and shalwar kameez, the traditional Afghan robe.