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Afghan journalists face attacks, arrests

KABUL – Under Taliban rule, journalists are being threatened, attacked and detained for their work while others, many of them women, have been forced out.

Afghan journalist Zaki Qais told CTV National News he lives in fear and moves house often. Last week, two men claiming to be local policemen came to his door in Kabul and left him bleeding and bruised. Qais blamed Taliban thugs for the attack and believes their intentions were deadly because of his work as an outspoken journalist on social media.

“I show people the violence of the Taliban,” Qais said in an interview in Kabul. “They came with a knife and dragged me out of the house.”

Qais said he had been beaten and whipped by the Taliban twice before. They warn that the commentary posted to his more than 300,000 followers on his Facebook page is not real journalism.

“How can a journalist do his job in Afghanistan?” Qais said his head is still bandaged after the recent attack. “I made the Taliban angry. If they catch me again, they will kill me.”

According to the International Press Institute, Afghanistan, along with India, is the country with the second most journalists killed in 2021, behind only Mexico. The situation could get worse.

Since the Taliban took over in August 2021, hundreds of newspapers, radio and television stations have closed. While many journalists fled, rights groups reported that those who remained in Afghanistan have faced attacks and arrests, including retaliation for launching anti-government protests. Rare Taliban. Many female journalists have also been forced out of their jobs.

When the Taliban took over Kabul last August, Setara Farahmand’s mother told her to go home immediately. Farahmand is a news anchor for a women’s television network in the city. She hasn’t worked there since.

“It is sad to see what has happened to female journalists,” she told CTV News from her home in Kabul. “The situation is very bad for us.”

Farahmand says she and her three sisters rarely go out at the moment and feel like prisoners in their country. They also stand out as the ethnic Hazaras, a persecuted minority, adding another layer of danger to their young lives.

Farahmand’s 14-year-old sister Zohal wants to follow in her footsteps, but not in Afghanistan.

“I don’t think the situation is good for us as a journalist,” Zohal said. “So I want to be a journalist in another country.”

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