The Taliban has shut down a female-run radio station in Afghanistan’s northeastern region, for playing music during the holy month of Ramadan, citing a violation of religious principles, a Taliban official said.
According to Moezuddin Ahmadi, who serves as the director for Information and Culture in Badakhshan province, the radio station “Sadai Banowan,” repeatedly violated the “laws and regulations of the Islamic Emirate” by playing songs and music during Ramadan, which led to its closure due to the breach.
“If this radio station accepts the policy of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and gives a guarantee that it will not repeat such a thing again, we will allow it to operate again,” Ahmadi said.
Sadai Banowan, which means women’s voice in Dari, is Afghanistan’s only female-run station and started 10 years ago. It has eight staff, six of them female, according to the Guardian.
Najia Sorosh, the head of the radio station has rejected the accusation of violating any laws and regulations, stating that the closure was unwarranted and calling it a “conspiracy”. She refuted the Taliban’s claim of playing music on the radio, saying that the station did not broadcast any form of music. “They told us that we played music, but we did not play any kind of music,” she said.
According to Sorosh, the shutdown was carried out by representatives from the Ministry of Information and Culture and the Vice and Virtue Directorate on Thursday morning at around 11:40 am. She further added that the station staff had reached out to the Vice and Virtue Directorate for more information about the closure, but officials there said that they did not have any additional details to share.
In the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, a significant number of journalists were reported to have lost their jobs. The Afghan Independent Journalists Association reported that media outlets have shut down either due to a shortage of funds or because their staff members had fled the country.
According to reports, Afghan journalists who refuse to adhere to the Taliban’s policies have been subjected to arrests, with some alleging that they have been abused and tortured following their release.
Under Taliban rule, women in Afghanistan are largely excluded from many forms of education and employment, with university education and most jobs being off-limits beyond the sixth grade.
While there is no official ban on music, the Taliban has historically imposed strict restrictions on cultural activities and entertainment. During their previous regime in the late 1990s, the Taliban banned most forms of mass media, including television, radio, and newspapers.