Taliban authorities in Afghanistan have asked television broadcasters to ensure that female presenters on local stations cover their faces when on air, an official said on Thursday.
The move comes days after authorities ordered women to cover their faces in public, a return to a policy of the Taliban’s past hardline rule and an escalation of restrictions that are causing anger at home and abroad.
“Yesterday we met with media officials… they accepted our advice very happily,” Akif Mahajar, spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue, told Reuters, adding this move would be received well by Afghans.
While he framed the move as “advice”, Mahajar added: “The last date for face covering for TV presenters is May 21,” referring to when compliance with the new requirement should begin.
He did not respond to a query on what the consequences would be of not following the advice.
Most Afghan women wear a headscarf for religious reasons, but many in urban areas such as Kabul do not cover their faces. During the Taliban’s last rule from 1996 to 2001, it was obligatory for women to wear the all-encompassing blue burqa.
Mahajar said female presenters could wear a medical face mask, as has been widely used during the COVID-19 pandemic