Internet banned in Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s Taliban militia banned the Internet on Saturday and ordered the religious police to punish users according to Islamic law, the official radio station reported.

KABUL, Afghanistan (August 26, 2001 12:53 a.m. EDT) – Afghanistan’s Taliban militia banned the Internet on Saturday and ordered the religious police to punish users according to Islamic law, the official radio station reported.

“Within the territory of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, no governmental or non-governmental, domestic or international NGO (non-governmental organization) or individuals can exploit the Internet,” Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar said in a decree broadcast on radio Shariat.

Omar said the ministry for the promotion of virtue and the suppression of vice, otherwise known as the religious police, had been authorized to punish Internet users.

“The ministry is duty-bound to chase the violators of this decree and punish the violator in accordance to Sharia law,” he said.

“The ministry of communication is duty-bound to make the use of the Internet impossible.”

Omar said his headquarters in the fundamentalist militia’s southern stronghold of Kandahar was the only authority allowed access to the technology and would vet all material posted by government departments.

The radio report gave no reason for the ban nor did it say what punishment awaited Internet users.

The Taliban, or movement of “Islamic students,” in July barred government officials and ordinary citizens from using the Internet to prevent un-Islamic influences, and said the ban would be lifted after the country built its own telephone network.

The earlier restrictions did not apply to international relief agencies and the United Nations, which are helping to rebuild the deeply impoverished country after more than 20 years of war.

Only a tiny fraction of Afghanistan’s 21 million population has access to telephones so the ban announced Saturday will make no difference to most people.

Those who do log on through service providers in neighboring Pakistan are able to find news and information which is otherwise unavailable in the strictly controlled domestic media.

The Taliban seized Kabul in 1996 and now controls most of the country. It has also banned television, cinema and music under its unique brand of Sharia law aimed at creating a pure Mohammadan state free of non-Islamic influence.

A strict dress code designed to protect moral values forbids women from showing their faces in public while men can be beaten for rolling up their sleeves or trimming their beards.

Afghanistan’s only television station operates out of Faizalabad, capital of northeastern Badakhshan province which is under the control of forces loyal to the ousted government of president Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Author: Agence France-Presse

News Service: nando times

URL: http://www.nando.com/technology/story/67756p-962641c.html