|Kabul: 5:45 AM      |
Welcome to Kabul:Reconstructions. You can follow the information below, which has been gathered from a
number of sources by a number of participants (click on the names at left for bios), to reconstruct your
own picture of events in Kabul since this site was launched on March 8th, 2003 and, in a sense, since the
reconstruction of Afghanistan began somewhere in the winter of 2001-02.
Some of this information has been provided in response to specific questions submitted by visitors like you. Please note that this section of the project is now maintained as an archive and has not been updated since 2005. Click here to ASK A QUESTION.
Arian Mouj Sharifi
More on freedom of the press in Kabul - Aftab update (IWPR) & shutdown of Arman-i-Mili (AFP, Xinhua)
Aftab Editor "Destabilising Afghanistan" Prominent journalist says free speech cannot justify blasphemous articles. By Danish Karokhel in Kabul (ARR No. 77, 08-Oct-03) Institute for War & Peace Reporting Controversial journalist Mir Hosain Mahdavi's writings are dangerous because they are not only blasphemous but they also destabilise Afghanistan, claims a prominent ex-mujahedin journalist. Hafiz Mansoor, 39, who is on the editorial board of the Payam-e-Mujahed newspaper, argues that Mahdavi's criticisms of mujahedin and his questioning of the role of Islam in government undermine the reconstruction process. Mahdavi, 31, was editor of the Aftab newspaper until the authorities closed it down following the publication of a controversial column, entitled Sacred Fascism, in which he questioned the role of Islam in government and criticised the pasts of now-powerful mujahedin figures. As a result, he and another Aftab journalist were jailed for eight days. While they were later released, they are still to face charges and have had to go into exile. The supreme court has issued a fatwa recommending a death sentence. Although Mansoor considers Mahdavi's writings insulting, he doesn't believe that the mujahedin should be exempt from scrutiny simply because they fought in the jihad, the war against the Soviets. But blanket criticism of mujahedin is an insult to the concept of holy war, and is therefore against Islam, Mansoor said. On the subject of Mahdavi's right to express his opinion, Mansoor said that Islam recognises the importance of free speech - but to an extent which varies depending on the circumstances. So when the country is fragile, it may be necessary to ban any publication that has a destabilising effect. "In the present conditions, security is the first priority for our people," he told IWPR. "If there is no security, there will be no reconstruction, the government will not establish itself, and there will be no education, no human rights and no publications." He added, "This article and others like it may have been written in the name of freedom of speech, but instead of bringing stability, they undermine the reconstruction and have negative effects." The editor also claimed that Mahdavi and his newspaper were driven by the lure of foreign money. "He was using the pen not according to his beliefs, but for profit," he said. "Whatever the funders tell him, he does. He doesn't have a mind of his own." He alleged that Mahdavi had written deliberately provocative columns in order to raise his profile and boost his chances of seeking asylum in the West. The former Aftab editor - speaking to IWPR by telephone from his secret location in exile - rejected the claims. He said that while Aftab received funding from the German aid organisation GTZ and the American supported Afghan Civil Society group, they did not dictate what he wrote, and in fact backed him because he was independent. He maintains that his goal in writing the column was to promote religious reform. He now intends to expand these ideas into a book. Mahdavi, who holds a bachelors degree in physics from Tehran University, spent five years studying aspects of Islam at Iranian religious schools. Mansoor left high school in 1979 to join the fight against the Soviets, and was a mujahedin fighter until 1992. He then went on to complete his schooling and studied journalism at Kabul University. Mansoor worked as the head of the state news agency Bakhtar before going back to the resistance, this time to the Taleban. He also served as cultural director for the Jamiat-e-Islami party. Following the collapse of the Taleban, Mansoor joined the interim administration, where he served as acting culture and information minister and director general of Radio and Television Afghanistan. He left this post last year to join Payam-e-Mujahed. Mansoor has written seven books on Afghanistan's wars, including a biography of assassinated Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. His eighth book, a critique of the current transitional administration, titled "Karzai Signs Without Reading", is to be published this week. Danish Karokhel is an IWPR editor/trainer in Kabul. ---------------------- Afghan daily shut down KABUL, Oct 13: The Afghan government has shut down one of the country's top dailies, the popular state-run newspaper Arman-i-Mili, its chief editor Mir Haidar Mutahar said Monday. Mutahar said Information and Culture Minister Sayeed Makhdoom Raheen banned the daily at the weekend because it tried to be more independent of President Hamid Karzai's administration. "We tried to be more independent and have our own publication policy," Mutahar said. -Agence France Presse XINHUA GENERAL NEWS SERVICE October 12, 2003, 11:16 AM Eastern Time Afghanistan's top circulated daily newspaper shut down A state-run daily newspaper with No. 1 circulation in Afghanistan ceased to publish overnight in a surprising way, staff said on Sunday. The Arman-e-Millie daily, whose name means "the national desire, " has been among the most popular publications based in Kabul till Saturday evening, they said. "Officials closed the door of Arman-e-Millie last night without any prior notification," a staff worker of the daily told Xinhua. "By closing down the newspaper's office, another 30 people are added to the list of unemployment in our poor country," complained the man who asked not to be identified. A private weekly named Aftab was banned by the Afghan government nearly four months ago for publishing an article allegedly blaspheming Islam and its holy book, the Koran. However, a senior official at the Information and Culture Ministry denied any political motivations in the decision to stop the publishing of the Arman-e-Mille daily, which was run by the ministry. "Arman-e-Mille has not been banned, but is canceled on financial grounds," Deputy Minister Abdul Hamid Mubariz told Xinhua, adding that the government "want to save money" by closing down the newspaper. Publications have been mushrooming in Afghanistan since the collapse of the austere Taliban regime in late 2001, but the demand for daily reading materials is limited in a country with an illiteracy rate of over 86 percent among its population of some 24 millions. There are 265 dailies, weeklies and other publications in Afghanistan currently, four of them run by the government. Launched some 18 months ago just after the ouster of the Taliban, the Arman-e-Millie paper topped all the papers with a circulation of 4,200 copies, followed by the Anis, another state-run daily, with 3,800 copies. "In fact, it was unnecessary to bear the burden of five dailies, so we decided to close down Arman-e-Millie forever," Mubariz said.
Posted By: mariam   October 20th 2003, 2003 5:58 PM
Kabul: Partial Reconstructions is an installation
and public dialogue project that explores the multiple meanings and resonances of
the idea of reconstruction -- as both process and metaphor -- in the context of present-day Kabul.
www.kabul-reconstructions.net is an online discussion forum, information resource, and medium for the communication of questions and answers about the reconstruction between people inside and outside the city of Kabul itself.