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Taliban have instructed Afghan journalists to use the group official name in all media outlets

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This week, the Taliban sent letters to several Afghan media outlets with instructions, including how the group wanted to be characterized in media coverage. Taliban letters were received.

According to the letter, which was obtained by VOA, news organizations should refer to the Taliban by their official name and are prohibited from urging "our young people to leave the nation" and promoting religions other than Islam. The Taliban have received the letter.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban's interim deputy minister of media and culture, issued the directions in a letter emailed to major news organizations across the country on September 25.

The Taliban had previously issued a set of directives for the media, including a request that journalists "produce detailed stories" in collaboration with a government media center.

CPJ's Asia program coordinator Steven Butler believes the Taliban's demand is an attempt to legitimize their position.

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“The Taliban is considered a fighting force, not a governing force, and they’re obviously trying to establish themselves as a legitimate governing force,” Butler said.

They wrote in their letter that because they "control the entire country and (are) in the service of religion, country, and people, media organizations cannot refer to Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as 'Taliban group' or 'Taliban faction' from now on," the Taliban wanted news organizations to refer to them as the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan."

No country has recognized the Taliban administration to date, and the United States has stated that recognition would be conditional on the group's actions. A Taliban delegate was denied the opportunity to address the United Nations General Assembly during its annual session in September.

The Taliban have imprisoned 32 journalists since gaining control in 2014, according to Human Rights Watch, including seven who were beaten while in custody last month. As a result of the economic downturn and Taliban-imposed restrictions, more than 150 Afghan media outlets have gone out of business.

There's no telling if the Taliban will be able to implement their new media mandate, according to Butler, who called it "rudimentary."

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Butler told VOA that "most administrations will say what they want the media to do." "The issue is that we have no idea of the situation. How will this be put into action? Is it going to be implemented? Censorship is inevitable once you start enforcing."

Despite the Taliban's repeated requests, it appears that journalists will no longer refer to the group as the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Taliban cannot order the media to use the term "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" until they establish a new (permanent) administration, according to Kabul journalist Eshaq Ali Ehsas. It's clear that we're dealing with the Taliban administration, and for the sake of consistency, we'll call it that.

The Taliban's chosen moniker has been used in reporting by Ariana News and a few other big national broadcasters.

The Taliban haven't specified what will happen if anyone break the guidelines.

When Mujahid was questioned by VOA about whether or not his order had been followed through on, he replied, "We're still investigating into this." He didn't say anything else.

On August 15, Taliban troops seized power in Afghanistan, forcing approximately 120,000 people, many of them highly educated professionals, to flee to the United States and other Western countries.

The Taliban are worried about a large exodus of educated Afghans and have stated that they do not want this to happen.

Afghan independent journalist Hujatullah Mujadidi says a ban on "encouraging" young people to leave the country might be used to stifle normal reporting.

Mujadidi told VOA, "I don't think the media is inciting anyone to leave the country." "However, there are many who believe that news broadcasts featuring discussions of the economy encourage people to flee the country."

Taliban tactics remain a mystery, as do their intentions for enacting the 11 principles they provided to journalists on September 19 in their press conference.

The Taliban expressed their support for press freedom during a meeting with journalists in Kabul, but they also provided a list of 11 guidelines for journalists to obey.

A prohibition on publishing stories "contrary to Islam" and "insulting national figures" is loosely based on existing media laws, but other rules go further, restricting the publication of news that has not been confirmed by officials and asking journalists to "prepare detailed reports" in coordination with a government media centre.

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Officials are forbidden from "insulting" government officials, according to Mujadidi, who attended the meeting.

Media reports that implicate officials in corruption, for example, could be considered as insulting, according to Mujadidi. "The media will have issues as a result."

Watchdogs in the media have blasted the guidelines as "vaguely worded, hazardous, and liable to be used to punish (journalists)," according to Reporters Without Borders in Paris.

Content created and supplied by: shadrackkibetkirui (via Opera News )

Afghan Islam Taliban VOA Zabihullah Mujahid


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