OTTAWA, March 25 (Online): Pressure on media in Afghanistan is mounting as groups step up criticism of "un-Islamic" content, especially on television, says a U.S.-supported news agency.
The Taliban's draconian rules were clear no music, no pictures, no television, there are no longer clear guidelines on what is considered acceptable under Islam.
The lack of guidance has given various interest groups wide latitude to choose their own interpretations and repeatedly call for crackdowns on specific media organizations.
The minister for information and culture, Sayed Makhdom Raheen, said he is facing pressure on several fronts, including from extremists who are going to mosques and berating him for not taking action against TV networks.
"We are a nation with deep historical and cultural roots and foreign influence should not meddle with this," said Raheen. "New generations should be brought up on solid Islamic and national culture."
This week, the national Ulema Council, or council of religious scholars, issued a statement criticizing all TV channels broadcasting in Afghanistan, specifically citing the country's own independent channels for censure.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Fazl Hadi Shinwari earlier issued a statement calling on TV channels to observe "the principles of Islam" in their program content.
Tolo TV and Afghan TV - both independents - have protested, saying their programs are well within the parameters of Islam, as well as the culture and traditions of Afghanistan.
One incidence of intimidation occurred at the hand of Uzbek strongman Abdul Rasheed Dostum's political wing, the Junbish-e Milli, after a local radio station broadcast a satire during last year's presidential election.
Journalists in the northern province of Balkh, a Dostum stronghold, are afraid to go public but have also expressed concerns about censorship.