CPJ Warns of Religious Threat to Afghan Media

Posted June 8th, 2011 at 9:15 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The Committee to Protect Journalists has expressed concern about a declaration issued by Afghanistan's Council of Religious Scholars on June 1 criticizing two media outlets for “immorality” and “animosity against Islam.”

In a press release Wednesday, the New York-based group said that the council, a powerful force in Afghan politics, singled out the Hasht-e-Subh Daily newspaper and Tolo Television.

According to CPJ, Sanjar Sohail, the owner and publisher of the Kabul-based newspaper, said the council had been offended and angered by an article criticizing the religious training of girls in two northern provinces. The same article angered the council by saying that parents were concerned about their daughters being radicalized by religious training schools .

Sohail said the response of the council signals that “a significant threat against independent and open media in Afghanistan is on the way.”

CPJ said the council also criticized Tolo Television for what it called “anti-religious” programming. The group said that Tolo has been under pressure from authorities for its entertainment programming since it was founded in 2004.

CPJ's Asia program Coordinator, Bob Dietz, said Afghanistan's media are “important voices for their country.” He called on President Hamid Karzai to “ensure the expectations of the Afghan religious leadership do not stifle free speech.”

The CPJ is an independent, not-for-profit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.