Taliban detain Afghan fashion model on religious charges

ISLAMABAD -- According to video released by Afghanistan's new rulers, the Taliban arrested a well-known Afghan fashion designer and three of his associates.

Taliban detain Afghan fashion model on religious charges

ISLAMABAD -- According to video released by Afghanistan's new rulers, the Taliban arrested a well-known Afghan fashion designer and three of his associates. They accused them of disrespecting Islam as well as the Quran, the holy book of Muslims, and also of stealing their money.

Ajmal Haqiqi, a model and YouTuber who is well-known for his fashion shows, YouTube clips, and modeling events appeared handcuffed in videos posted by the Taliban intelligence agency on Twitter on Tuesday.

One video is widely circulated and controversial. Haqiqi can be seen laughing while Ghulam Skhi, his colleague, who has a speech impairment that he uses to humor, recites verses from the Quran in Arabic in a humorous voice.

The Taliban released a video showing Haqiqi with his fellow prisoners, after which they apologized to the Taliban government as well as religious scholars.

The video was accompanied with a tweet in Dari language that stated: "No one is permitted to insult Quranic verses and sayings of Prophet Muhammad."

Amnesty International issued a statement Wednesday asking the Taliban to release Haqiqi as well as his coworkers "immediately, unconditionally".

Amnesty documented numerous arbitrary Taliban detentions in Afghanistan. These were often accompanied with coerced statements to suppress dissent and discourage others from speaking out.

Samira Hamidi (Amnesty's South Asia campaigner) denounced the arrests. She said that the Taliban had committed a "blatant attack against the right to freedom and expression" by detaining Haqiqi, his coworkers, and forcing them to apologize. She also condemned the Taliban's "continued suppression of people who want to freely express themselves."

Taliban officials in Kabul did not respond immediately to inquiries for comment. It was also not clear what kind of measures the model and his co-workers face under the Taliban-run judiciary.

It was also impossible to reach the families of the models arrested immediately for comment.

The Taliban have been imposing strict measures and edicts since they took power in Afghanistan last August during the final weeks U.S. troop withdrawal. They do so according to their harsh interpretations of Islamic law. This includes limiting the rights of women, minorities, and children.

These actions have raised concerns about the possibility that the radical Islamic group will continue to control Afghanistan as it did in late 1990s. Criticism and any act that is considered to be disrespectful to Islam are considered crimes by the Taliban.

Amnesty stated that the Taliban have used intimidation, harassment and violence against anyone who expressed support for modern human rights and values, particularly women activists, journalists and members of academia, since their takeover.

The rights group also called on the Taliban to be the de facto authorities in Afghanistan and to respect the rights of all people to free expression without discrimination.

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