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Women newscasters vow to fight veil

Presenters on Sunday wore full hijabs and veils

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AFP) — Women television presenters on Afghanistan’s leading news channels on Sunday vowed to speak up for their rights after being forced by Taliban authorities to cover their faces on air.

Since seizing power last year, the Taliban have imposed a slew of restrictions on civil society, especially on women and girls to comply with the group’s austere brand of Islam.

This month Afghanistan’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada issued a diktat for women to cover up fully in public, including their faces, ideally with the traditional burqa.

The feared Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice ordered women television presenters to follow suit.

After defying the order a day earlier, presenters on Sunday wore full hijabs and veils that left only their eyes on view across leading channels including TOLOnews, Ariana Television, Shamshad TV and 1TV.

“Today, they have imposed a mask on us, but we will continue our struggle using our voice,” Sonia Niazi, a presenter for TOLOnews, told AFP after presenting a bulletin.

“I will never ever cry because of this order, but I will be the voice for other Afghan girls.”

The diktat was an attempt to push women journalists to quit their jobs, Niazi said.

“It is like stripping off your identity,” she added.

“Despite this we want to raise our voice… We will come to work until the Islamic Emirate removes us from public space or forces us to sit at home.”

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