Monday, May 07, 2007

Afghanistan's New 'Democratic' Media

With British soldiers and insurgents, and lots of civilians being killed on a regular basis, it's important to remember what they are fighting for: they are fighting for democracy. The currency of democracy is free speech – most often reflected by a free press:

Afghanistan's parliament is on the brink of passing a new law that could damage the independence of the country's media. Under the new proposals, both private and state media will come under greater government control. Proposed changes include an oversight committee that will scrutinise media content....Under a new mass media law journalists could be forbidden from criticising the state or discussing the relationship between religion and the state. Mohammad Mohaqiq, the head of the parliamentary committee for culture and religion, told a recent international media conference in Kabul there should be no insult to Islam or the state by the media.

Great, but don't worry, there is lots of media there to oppose this government control freakery;

There are more than 300 publications, 152 FM radio stations and 84 TV stations across the country. Almost all, however, are controlled by pressure groups. Three or four official newspapers are almost identical, reporting only on meetings of officials. One title belongs to the former mujahideen president, Burhan ud-Din Rabbani; another to the speaker of parliament, Yunis Qanooni; a third supports the minister of culture and information. General Rashid Dustom owns one TV station; General Ata another....The one or two relatively independent voices are near bankruptcy.

Great. Now that's democracy in action. Just as the U$A keeps a journalist in Gitmo without charges, just as Sri Lankan and Colombian journalists are under threat. Democracy in action. Just glad we are shoulder-to-shoulder with these paragons of free speech. Real glad.

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