Thursday, April 24, 2008

Indian Soap Operas Outrage Certain Afghans

A culture clash that makes one wonder who has an irony deficiency and needs a freshly bloomed hypocrisy poppy. Indian soap operas are making specific Afghanis (more) nuts with the risque, the raunchy and the pseudo-reality. The spin is that the 5 private TV stations have children foregoing homework and their programs are the height of un-Islamic behavior which forces the government to save people from themselves before they burn in Hell on Earth or something more dire. Hence, banned foreign soap operas, Kum Kum or Life's Test are now all the rage.

Last year, certain Hindu fundamentalist Indians got their knickers stuck in permanent wedgies when Richard Gere did a sweeping public display of affection on the cheek of Bollywood co-star Shilpa Shetty, resulting in charges, apologies and high international melodrama during a press conference on HIV/AIDS. As Afghanistan hastens its return back to the Flintstone Age under Taliban culture crustaceans, it is amazing what happens to be verboten to the high ministers of mendacity versus what great returns certain Afghans make from their cut of selling the world's opiate of choice. Tolo TV is American Idol popular where television is accessible, especially Kabul. In March, during an awards ceremony mixed gender couples danced together on stage sending shivers of horror and the Victorian vapors through the country's ├╝ber conservatives enough to have them invoke the Ulema Council. This is a group of legal scholars or Supreme Court of the land that arbitrate finality on Sharia law.
The ministry of culture ordered four TV stations to take five Indian soaps off the air by 14 April. Only Noorin TV suspended its soap, Waiting, so the ministry issued another deadline, which ended yesterday.

Ariana TV caved in, ending broadcasts of Kum Kum, a drama about a widow who is wooed by her childhood sweetheart but marries the brother of her late husband. The ministry is threatening legal action against the other networks, which have accused the government of trying to re-Talebanise Afghanistan.

"We think broadcasting Indian serials is in accordance with the law, so we will continue to broadcast them," said Saad Mohseni, the owner of Tolo TV. "Millions of people watch these shows every night."

The soaps have become prime-time favourites as private stations have flourished in the six years since the fall of the hardline Taleban regime, which had banned TV altogether.
The official government of Afghanistan has set a deadline for compliance from private TV stations in India about the content saturating their airwaves in the form of the Indian version of soap operas. There is an order of magnitude much higher than the Indian soap opera. The Spanish language soap operas or novellas are the best and would not pass the Afghan TV test. The Resident Burqa Police, more commonly known as some emasculated Members of the Afghani parliament, are busy trying to build a coalition to strip personal freedoms from the People who can bear children by pontificating on the merits of banning jeans, long hair, chatting in public with a spouse and makeup with all due deliberate speed.

Haji Ahmad Shah Khan Achakzai, an MP in Kandahar province, said the law would boost moral and religious values for Afghan people. "Kabul has seen a wave of liberal, unwelcome influences of late," he said. "There are women dressed immodestly, prostitution can be found openly and even alcohol is available on the market. Our job is to protect the Afghan people from being exposed to this un-Islamic way of life and poor morals."

But more liberal MPs fear the loss of hard-fought freedoms. "I am worried there will be another Taliban era ahead of us. We have fought for many years to gain some freedom here and it is our responsibility not to let this happen again," said Najiba Sharif, deputy minister for women's affairs. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Hizzoner, The Mayor of Kabul, better known around the world as the president of Afghanistan, sides with the overzealous Burqua Inquisitors because an election is coming to an Afghan village near him in 2009. The government apparatus takes direction from the American educated and US backed head of state that is clearly siding with supporting the political regression taking place in Afghanistan.

The wonderfully written and hands on book by Deborah Rodriguez is all about restoring the esteem of women through sharing her gifts with others in Afghanistan. Kabul Beauty School: An American Goes Behind the Veil brings an American up close to Afghanistan. It earned its way as a New York Times bestseller and is deserving of lavish praise. Kiterunner and A Thousand Splendid Suns bring an Afghan point of view in excellent fiction from a doctor from Afghanistan.

No comments: