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Afghans given 15 days to get rid of VCRs, TVs, satellites

SHARE Afghans given 15 days to get rid of VCRs, TVs, satellites

The Islamic Taliban movement, which rules most of Afghanistan, has given the people 15 days to get rid of their television sets or see them smashed by the religious police.

Videocassette recorders, videotapes and satellite dishes were also ordered to disappear by Mohammed Qalamuddin, Afghanistan's minister for the prevention of vice and the promotion of virtue, who reports to the Ministry of Religion. He called television and video "the cause of corruption in this society."The Taliban, led by radical Islamic scholars commanding unsophisticated former students from austere religious schools, has sought to isolate the population from television since it began capturing cities in 1996. The movement also banned audiotapes, films and most other forms of entertainment.

After the fall of Kabul, the capital, to the Taliban in 1996, the national television center was closed. But the Taliban did not follow through on threats to confiscate videotapes or satellite dishes. Not many Afghans can afford satellite dishes. Video players are more common, though still limited largely to the urban elite.

The latest Taliban edict on television was announced Wednesday by the Shariat radio, an official network devoted largely to religion and moral education. The broadcast added that violators of the new ban on television would be punished in accordance with Islamic law, although punishments were not spelled out.

"The Taliban is killing urban communication," said Leonard Suss-man, senior scholar in international communications at Freedom House.