Afghan ministry slams couple dancing on TV

Kabul, March 30:

The Kabul government “strongly condemned” yesterday a television programme that showed Afghan men and women dancing together, saying it threatened to erode the moral standards of youngsters.

Tolo, the most popular television channel in conservative Afghanistan, aired on Friday scenes of men and women dancing during an Afghan movie award ceremony in Kabul.

The show also triggered an angry reaction within the parliament, with several conservative MPs denouncing the station.

“The Ministry of Information and Culture strongly condemns the broadcasting of the dance scenes on Tolo television during the movie award-giving ceremony,” a ministry statement said.

It “deems the show which contained scenes of dance performed jointly by men and women against beliefs and traditions of the Islamic society of Afghanistan,” it said.

Tolo, which hosts the nation’s most popular shows such as Afghan Star — a version of American Idol, has often been criticised by conservative Islamic clerics for its

modern and relatively liberal content.

Abdul Rab-Rasoul Sayyaf, a legislator and former commander in the 1980s war that drove out the Soviet occupiers, demanded in parliament that Tolo be banned.

“Tolo TV is not just a broadcaster. It’s a (entry point) for foreign conspiracies,” he said.

The information ministry — itself controversial for its conservative attitudes — said the dancing at the awards show “was undermining the morals of young Afghans.” The show would be referred to a government media-monitoring committee to determine if it had violated the country’s media law, it said.

The committee has in the past fined broadcasters — which have to tread a fine line between conservative religious circles and young, trendy Afghans — for showing female dancers and singers.