Taliban's sense of humour fails TV test Â
Monday 18 October 2004
Television stations in two Arab states have abandoned plans to broadcast a soap opera set in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, after an internet threat to "strike" against the actors and executives involved.
The heavily publicised series, The Road to Kabul, (al-Tareeq ila Kabul) was to be aired during Ramadan, which began on Friday. It depicts the relationship between a young Afghan woman and an Arab man, who meet while she is studying in England, and then go to live in Kabul.
But, on Thursday night, a threat appeared on a website from an unknown group calling itself the Mujahedin Brigades of Iraq and Syria, saying: "We swear to the great God that if we see in the series anything other than the honourable reality of the Taliban ... we will assault all those who participated in this sullied malice.
"We will strike, God willing, the centres of satellite stations, their correspondents ... and we swear that nobody will slip from our hands - if not today, then tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then in a month, or a year."
The authenticity of the statement could not be independently verified.
Television stations in Qatar and Jordan were adamant that the reasons for pulling Road to Kabul, which cost £2.4m to make, were purely technical.
Talal Adnan al-Awamleh, the owner of Arab Audio-Visual Centre, which was involved in producing the series said: "The Qataris have issued a statement to all the stations that bought it, asking them to suspend broadcast on unspecified technical and information grounds". An official from Qatar's state television said: "The decision to suspend the programming has nothing to do with these threats. The decision was made two days before the threats were even posted because [the channel] has only received eight of the series' 30 episodes."
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