Who is Beheshta Arghand? Female Afghan TV anchor interviews Taliban official on live TV
The Taliban, in an attempt to emphasize their liberal stance towards women, allowed a TV station's female anchor to interview a spokesman. A presenter on the county’s first 24-hour news network, TOLO news channel, Beheshta Arghand interviewed Mawlawi Abdulhaq Hemad in the studio about the situation in the capital of Kabul. Given the 'horrifying memories' of the Taliban's impression of women during their last reign, a female anchor conducting an interview on live TV was a 'stunning' sight.
"The entire world now recognizes that the Taliban are the real rulers of the country. I am still astonished that people are afraid of Taliban," Hemad said during the interview. "We are thankful to Allah that we have accomplished a desired goal for which our people were martyred — it’s a good situation for the reason that in this whole transition and war not more than 50 people were killed," he added.
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Further in the interview, Mawlawi Abdulhaq Hemad spoke highly of Mulla Yaqoob, the son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar and said, "His words carry authority for the Taliban and he said the Taliban shouldn’t cause trouble among the people and that was a sigh of relief for all of Afghan people. Up till now, the Taliban did not cause any trouble, not even to 1 percent in the country, by the Mujahedeen." The director of the Moby GroupSaad Mohseni, which oversees TOLO news, reacted to the Taliban official’s interview by a woman and tweeted, "Unthinkable two decades ago when they were last in charge."
Notorious for the suppression of women's rights, the Taliban banned women and girls from going to work or school during their last regime. According to INews, an Afghan native, who now lives in UK, Homira Rezai told BBC Women’s Hour that the Taliban were already drawing up a list of women to target. "Just an hour ago, I received an update from Kabul where they are going house to house searching for women who were activists, women who were bloggers, YouTubers, any women who had a role in the development of civil society in Afghanistan," she said. In the face of similar reports pouring in from all over the country, it is yet to establish the Taliban's motive behind the 'welcome move'.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Tuesday, August 17 said the Taliban has 'pledged' to honor women’s rights, but within the norms of Islamic law. Mujahid also noted the Taliban wanted private media to "remain independent", however, within restrictive constraints. He emphasized that journalists "should not work against national values".
Who is Beheshta Arghand?
Beheshta Arghand is an anchor for the TOLO news channel who was the first in the country to carry out the channel's transmission with female anchors in a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The channel's head of information Miraqa Popal said in a tweet, "Our female moderator is meeting a Taliban media colleague live in our studio." Although, Beheshta Arghand's interview was perceived as a 'welcome change' in the ways of the Taliban, reports of female columnists, journalists and writers receiving compromising calls from the Taliban paint a different picture. On Monday, August 16, Amnesty International's Secretary-General, Agnès Callamard said, "A large number of Afghans are at genuine danger of Taliban backlashes – from scholastics and writers to activists and ladies basic freedoms safeguards – and are at risk for being deserted to a profoundly dubious future."