Afghan Taliban official says taking pictures ‘major sin’

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A Taliban official said journalists were committing “a major sin” by taking pictures, Afghan media reported yesterday.

Television and pictures of living things were banned under the previous Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, but a similar edict has so far not been imposed since authorities took back power in Afghanistan in 2021.

“Taking pictures is a major sin,” Mohammad Hashem Shaheed Wror, a senior official in the Justice Ministry, told a seminar for department staff in the capital Kabul on Feb. 19, according to footage broadcast by several media.

“Our media friends, Afghans, they are always busy in this sin and always pulled towards immorality.”

Officials in the Taliban birthplace of Kandahar were ordered this week not to take any images of living things, but the ban did not extend to media or the public, the spokesperson for Kandahar’s governor Mahmood Azzam told AFP.

Images of humans and animals are generally avoided in Islamic art, extending for some Muslims to an aversion to any images of living things.

Several media outlets have refrained from using images of people and animals since the Taliban returned to power more than two years ago.

However, official central government departments frequently distribute and share pictures of senior officials meeting foreign dignitaries.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier this week said international envoys to Afghanistan hope for Taliban participation at their future meetings after the authorities snubbed an invitation to talks in Doha.

Guterres told a news conference that delegates had discussed “creating the conditions, in a next meeting, to have the presence of the de facto authorities of Afghanistan,” following their refusal to join the two-day conference which ended on Feb. 20 in the Gulf state.

The Taliban’s administration in Kabul has not been officially recognized by any other government since it took power and imposed a strict interpretation of Islam, with women subjected to laws characterized by the U.N. as “gender apartheid.”

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