03/25/2009, 00.00
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Manager of private TV network arrested over dancer's skimpy costume

The network Emrose TV is known for broadcasting music videos without any censorship. Many private television stations censor themselves in order to avoid protests by extremists. For Islamic militants, women who appear on television should have only their faces and necks uncovered.

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The manager of the television network Emrose TV has been arrested for failing to censor images of a woman dancing in a short skirt, and with a neckline judged to be too low.

The government had already warned the network not not to broadcast images considered immoral, and had taken director Fahim Khodamani to court. Khodamani had repeatedly refused to cover or alter the videos to conceal the female form. Emrose TV, launched only 10 months ago, is known for broadcasting music videos without any censorship.

Khodamani's arrest is the first case of its kind, but in the recent past various private TV stations have been accused by the media oversight commission, religious council, and representatives of the more traditionalist political parties.

Commentators are divided between supporting and opposing the decision from Kabul. Some say that it is just the latest sign of capitulation by the government to the claims of the Taliban. But others consider the entire affair as an attempt by institutions not to offer opportunities for propaganda and protest by Islamic fundamentalists.

The Afghan ministry for culture and information has declared that the Taliban are using these opportunities to promote their culture war, and to make proselytes among the inhabitants of the villages, accusing the government of giving in to Western morality and of betraying Afghan culture. Abdul Shukur Dadras, a member of the media oversight commission, has accused the network of undermining the traditional Islamic values that are at the foundation of the country's culture.

Other television channels, in order to prevent protests by Muslim extremists, have chosen the path of self-censorship. For Islamic militants, women on television may only have their faces and necks uncovered.

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