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The Taliban shut down Afghanistan's only women-run radio station

Najia Sorosh, head of Sadai Banowan a women-run radio station, left, speaks into a microphone in the studio in Badakhshan province, Afghanistan, on Jan. 4. A women-run radio station in Afghanistan's northeast has been shut down for playing music during Ramadan, a Taliban official said.
Sadai Banowan via AP
Najia Sorosh, head of Sadai Banowan a women-run radio station, left, speaks into a microphone in the studio in Badakhshan province, Afghanistan, on Jan. 4. A women-run radio station in Afghanistan's northeast has been shut down for playing music during Ramadan, a Taliban official said.

JALALABAD, Afghanistan — A women-run radio station in Afghanistan's northeast has been shut down for playing music during the holy month of Ramadan, a Taliban official said Saturday.

Sadai Banowan, which means women's voice in Dari, is Afghanistan's only women-run station and started 10 years ago. It has eight staff, six of them female.

Moezuddin Ahmadi, the director for Information and Culture in Badakhshan province, said the station violated the "laws and regulations of the Islamic Emirate" several times by broadcasting songs and music during Ramadan and was shuttered because of the breach.

"If this radio station accepts the policy of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and gives a guarantee that it will not repeat such a thing again, we will allow it to operate again," said Ahmadi.

Station head Najia Sorosh denied there was any violation, saying there was no need for the closure and called it a conspiracy. The Taliban "told us that you have broadcast music. We have not broadcast any kind of music," she said.

Sorosh said at 11:40 a.m. on Thursday representatives from the Ministry of Information and Culture and the Vice and Virtue Directorate arrived at the station and shut it down. She said station staff have contacted Vice and Virtue but officials there said they do not have any additional information about the closing.

Many journalists lost their jobs after the Taliban takeover in August 2021. Media outlets closed over lack of funds or because staff left the country, according to the Afghan Independent Journalists Association.

The Taliban have barred women from most forms of employment and education beyond the sixth grade, including university. There is no official ban on music. During their previous rule in the late 1990s, the Taliban barred most television, radio and newspapers in the country.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press