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Afghanistan Bans Cable TV for 'Un-Islamic' Programs - 2003-01-21

Afghanistan's chief justice has imposed a ban on cable television in Kabul and other parts of the country for broadcasting "un-Islamic" programs.

Chief Justice Fazl Hadi Shinwari says he has issued the order because the cable television broadcasts were offending religious leaders. He says that dozens of people filed complaints to the Supreme Court about cable operators showing half-naked singers and obscene movies.

Mr. Shinwari is quoted as saying that such broadcasts are clearly contrary to Islam and against morality, and that is why he has banned cable television in Kabul.

The ruling has reportedly affected five cable firms in the Afghan capital that mostly broadcast Western and Indian music and movie channels. Cable operators in the city say their operations were shut down by police following the order Monday.

Cable entertainment has become highly popular in Afghanistan after five years of harsh Islamic rule imposed by the Taleban regime. Television, music and cinema were outlawed during those years.

The Supreme Court ruling is being described as part of a struggle between Islamic and pro-Western elements in the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Chief Justice Shinwari has also called for abolishing the practice of girls and boys studying together in the country's schools. Mr. Shinwari says he is opposed co-education because it violates Islamic injunctions and social morality.

The Afghan chief justice says that a consultative council of Islamic scholars will soon be created to work for establishing an Islamic order and to struggle against "anti-Islam influences."