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Afghan women speak up against new Taliban media guidelines – Aljazeera.com

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Afghan journalists and activists have expressed concern over a new “religious guideline” issued by Taliban rulers, saying the move is yet another form of control over women.

The Taliban, which took over  Afghanistan roughly 100 days ago, on Sunday urged female journalists to follow a dress code and called on TV stations to stop showing soap operas featuring women, sparking fears over women’s rights and media freedom.

Akif Muhajir, spokesman for the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, said “these are not rules but a religious guideline”.

However, activists fear it could be misused to harass female journalists, many of whom have already fled the country in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover on August 15.

The Taliban has been accused of backing down on its pledge to protect women’s rights and media freedom. The latest move, which called on women to wear the hijab while presenting their reports, does not specify which type of covering to use.

Such restrictions, as well as tightening control on news reporting, has been done to preserve “national interest”, according to the group.

‘Muzzle the media’

Zahra Nabi, a broadcast journalist who co-founded a women’s television channel, said she felt cornered when the Taliban resumed power, and chose to go off-air the very same day.

“All the media is under their [Taliban] control,” Nabi, who established Baano TV in 2017, told Al Jazeera.

The network that was once run by 50 women was a symbol of how far Afghan women have come since the Taliban’s first stint in power in the 1990s.

With most of the network’s crew members now gone, Nabi has remained adamant about doing her job, and like many other established journalists in Afghanistan, she has had to work under the radar.

“We work in a very tough environment, and are even collecting reports under the burqa,” Nabi said, referring to an outer garment worn to cover the entire body and face used by some Muslim women.

“It is really hard for female journalists,” she said, citing a recent example where she had to enter the city of Kunduz as a humanitarian worker, and not as a journalist.

“I’m not showing myself as a journalist. I had to arrange with local women a safe office space to work in,” Nabi said.

A group of women wearing burqas crosses the street as members of the Taliban drive past in Kabul, Afghanistan [Jorge Silva/Reuters]

Now that Baano TV is off-air, the 34-year-old said she is trying to find other ways to showcase her reports, perhaps through social media platforms, or via broadcasters outside the country.

Commenting on the move, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday that the new strict guidelines will especially harm women.

“The Taliban’s new media regulations and threats against journalists reflect broader efforts to silence all criticism of Taliban rule,” said Patricia Gossman, an associate Asia director at HRW.

“The disappearance of any space for dissent and worsening restrictions for women in the media and arts is devastating.”

Sonia Ahmadyar, a journalist who lost her job in August, said the Taliban has been moving to slowly “muzzle the media”.

Day by day, the Taliban has been placing restrictions on women “to not let them be active,” Ahmadyar told Al Jazeera.

Women “really feel discouraged to appear on TV,” she said, adding that the group has taken away their “freedom” as well as their financial autonomy.

The 35-year-old called on the Taliban to allow women journalists to resume working “without being harassed” as soon as possible.

“It is their most basic right, because it is essential for their livelihood, and because their absence from the media landscape would have the effect of silencing all Afghan women,” she said.

‘Obliged to obey’

Previously, the Taliban stipulated that private media would be able to operate freely as long as they did not go against Islamic values. Within days of coming to power, the group had said that the government will be guided by Islamic law.

But journalists and human rights activists have criticised the guidelines as vague, saying they are subject to interpretation.

It remains unclear whether going on air without the hijab or airing foreign dramas featuring women, would attract legal scrutiny.

When asked if avoiding the guidelines would be punishable by law, Muhajir from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, told Al Jazeera citizens are “obliged to obey the guidance”, without elaborating.

According to Heather Barr, co-director of the Women’s Rights division of HRW, the Taliban’s directive is just the latest step by the group to “erase women from public life”.

The move comes after the group excluded women from senior roles in government, abolished the women’s ministry, women’s sports, and the system set up to respond to gender-based violence, she said.

Almost immediately after assuming power, the Taliban also instructed high school girls to stay home and not attend school. However, girls in parts of the country have now been allowed to resume classes.

Even though the vast majority of Afghan women cover their heads, some did not. But whether they did or not – “it was important that it was their choice,” Barr said.

Shaqaiq Hakimi, a young Afghan activist, agreed.

“God gave us … the right to decide. So it shouldn’t be something by force, but their [women’s] own decision,” she told Al Jazeera.

Since the guidelines do not specify the type of head covering women are expected to wear, Taliban officials will feel “empowered to determine what is and isn’t acceptable hijab,” Barr said, leaving women vulnerable to being stopped and harassed on the streets.

The consequences of such policing will force professional women to constantly wonder if their hijab is up to the Taliban’s standard.

This will have a “deeply chilling” effect on their ability to do their jobs, according to Barr.

But women like Nabi said the restrictions will not deter her from doing her job.

“We are working, we will not stop, and we will continue what we are doing,” she said. “That’s our plan.”

Hakimi echoed Nabi’s sentiment, saying if women stop fighting for their rights, “no one will give them to us”.

Additional reporting by Mohsin Khan Momand in Kabul

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Media Advisory: Premier Furey and Minister Osborne to Speak at Official Opening of Memorial University's Core Science Facility – News Releases – Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

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The Honourable Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Honourable Tom Osborne, Minister of Education, will bring remarks at Memorial University’s Core Science Facility official opening today, (Friday November 26).

The event takes place at Whale Atrium (CSF 1301), Core Science Facility, Arctic Avenue Memorial University, at 2:45 p.m.

NLVaxPass requirements will be in place for attendees.

– 30 –

Media contacts
Meghan McCabe
Office of the Premier
709-729-3960
meghanmccabe@gov.nl.ca

Tina Coffey
Education
709-729-1906, 687-9903
tcoffey@gov.nl.ca

2021 11 26
9:35 am

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Media Release – November 26, 2021 – Guelph Police – guelphpolice.ca

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Stolen truck involved in two incidents

The Guelph Police Service is investigating after the same stolen pickup truck was involved in two separate incidents Thursday.

Approximately 2:40 p.m., a Guelph male called police to advise he had been involved in a road rage incident with two males in a blue Ford Ranger pickup. The caller advised he merged onto the Hanlon Expressway in front of the pickup at Speedvale Avenue West. The truck pulled alongside the caller’s vehicle and a passenger in the truck leaned out the window and used something similar to a metal pipe to smash the rear driver’s-side window of the caller’s vehicle.

Investigation revealed the Ford Ranger had been reported stolen from Wellington County. Anyone with information is asked to call Constable Robert Smith at 519-824-1212, ext. 7388, email him at rsmith@guelphpolice.ca, leave an anonymous message for Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or leave an anonymous tip online at www.csgw.tips.

Approximately four hours later, just after 7 p.m., police were called about an incident in the parking lot of a restaurant on Woodlawn Road West near Silvercreek Parkway North. A staff member advised a customer in the drive-through became upset about his order, driving erratically out of the parking lot and almost hitting two employees. The vehicle involved was determined to be the same blue Ford Ranger.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Constable Konrad Babol at 519-824-1212, ext. 7189, email him at kbabol@guelphpolice.ca or contact Crime Stoppers.

Male arrested in commercial break-in

A Guelph male was arrested Thursday in connection with a commercial break and enter earlier this month.

On November 13, two males forced their way into a business on Wellington Street West after using bolt cutters to remove a lock. Once inside they searched several offices and stole a quantity of electronics.

Investigation led to the identity of both suspects. One male was arrested last week and will next appear in court December 14.

On Thursday the second male was located at an address downtown and arrested. A 35-year-old Guelph male is charged with break and enter and breach of probation. He will appear in a Guelph bail court Friday.

Charges follow drive-through dispute

A Guelph male faces charges following a dispute in a south-end drive-through earlier this week.

Monday morning, approximately 6:35 a.m., there was an altercation between a motorist and a pedestrian at the drive-through window of a restaurant on Stone Road West. During the altercation, the motorist aggressively pulled forward so his vehicle was touching the pedestrian.

He also poured a bottle of water over her head and threatened to run her over. The pedestrian was not physically injured. The motorist was identified through surveillance video and Thursday turned himself in to the Guelph Police Service.

A 41-year-old Guelph male is charged with dangerous driving, assault and uttering threats. He will appear in a Guelph court December 31, 2021.

Copper stolen from south-end business

The Guelph Police Service is investigating the theft of a quantity of copper from a south-end business early Friday morning.

Approximately 2:25 a.m. police were called by an employee of a business on Southgate Drive. The employee advised he was watching live video surveillance of a male on the business property loading copper into the back of a blue Kia Soul.

Officers arrived 10 minutes later to find the gate to the property standing open but the suspect had already left. It is unknown how much copper was stolen.

The incident remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Constable Firas El-Ayoubi at 519-824-1212, ext. 7129, email him at felayoubi@guelphpolice.ca, leave an anonymous message for Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or leave an anonymous tip for Crime Stoppers at www.csgw.tips.

Total calls for service in the last 24 hours – 218

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In photos: a view of RCMP arrests of media, Indigenous land defenders on Wet’suwet’en territory – The Narwhal

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In the pre-dawn morning on Friday, Nov. 19, Sleydo’ Molly Wickham, a wing chief in Cas Yikh house of the Gidimt’en clan, checks communications in a tiny house stationed next to a Coastal GasLink drill site along the Wedzin Kwa (Morice) River.

Although light hasn’t yet broken into the small wooden structure, Wickham is already performing media interviews. Her fellow supporters in the one-room structure begin to sit up as they hear Wickham tell a reporter that “several RCMP buses have been spotted coming up the hill.”

By afternoon an RCMP tactical team and specially trained officers with the Community-Industry Response Group is advancing on the small structure, with snipers and canine units at the ready. Shaylynn Sampson, a Gitxsan supporter, has her ear to the door, listening, when the action comes. She leaps back moments before an axe smashes the door, sending jagged shards of wood flying into the crowded space. A police dog barks and whines incessantly and a chainsaw snarls as RCMP continue to tear down the door.

Inside, five peaceful land defenders stand waiting for their inevitable arrest. They do not resist. They hold no weapons. An officer, armed with an assault rifle and clad in military-style gear, pushes the barrel of his gun through the broken door. 

“Lower your gun!” Wickham yells. “This is sovereign Wet’suwet’en land, you guys need to leave right now. You have no authority here.” Wickham asked the RCMP if they had a warrant to enter the residence. The RCMP responded they were entering under the authority of a Coastal GasLink injunction, secured against opponents of the 670-kilometre gas pipeline in December of 2019.

The RCMP’s use of force on this day will become roundly criticized as excessive as a response to a small collective of peaceful Indigenous pipeline opponents. More than 40 media outlets and press-freedom organizations have called on Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Marco Mendicino, to investigate the RCMP’s arrest of journalists and prevent them from taking place in the future.

In total, 15 people, including myself and documentary filmmaker Michael Toledano, were arrested that day and incarcerated by the RCMP for several nights under civil contempt of court charges. More than 30 individuals were arrested throughout the week. Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who have staunchly opposed the construction of pipelines across their unceded territory in northern B.C., issued an eviction order against the company on Jan. 4, 2020, but work on the pipeline is ongoing.

Upon the arrests of media, RCMP officers confiscated recording devices, so the public has been unable to see documentary photos and footage of Friday’s arrest until recently.

Gitxsan supporter Wilpspoocxw Lax Gibuu (Shaylynne Sampson), left, and Sleydo’ Molly Wickham rest in the tiny house at Coyote camp in Gidimt’en territory near Houston, B.C., on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021.
Fireworks are set off from the heat of a fire at a barricade constructed on the road outside of Coyote camp on Thursday.
A structure built as a barricade was set aflame on Thursday, presumably to deter police from coming in as the sun was setting.
The tiny house residence at Coyote camp where RCMP officers arrested seven individuals, including two journalists on Friday, Nov. 19.
A Gidimt’en flag flies on the camp kitchen as the sun rises on Friday.
Wickham rises in the predawn to check communications and to take a media interview.
Media and supporters rise for the day in the tiny house. Documentary filmmaker Michael Toledano, left, was arrested by the RCMP, despite notifying officers he is a member of the media.
Wickham and Sampson start to plan for the day at the Coyote camp.
Militarized police move in to Coyote camp on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. The Gidimt’en clan held Coyote camp, adjacent to the Coastal GasLink pipeline right of way and a drill pad site, since Sept. 25, 2021. Coastal GasLink has had an injunction since December of 2019, preventing pipeline opponents from blocking access to their worksites and public forestry roads.
Wickham covers her face with a red hand print, to signify missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, as she waits for police.
Militarized police run to cut power, radio and internet supply to the tiny house prior to breaking down the door and conducting arrests.
Wickham and Sampson peer out to monitor police activity prior to their arrest.
Sampson stands at the door moments before police break it down with an axe and a chainsaw.
A piece of the door flies through the air as police breach the tiny house and arrest all who are inside.
Supporters keep their hands raised as officers enter the house.
An RCMP officer drags a woman in a small one-room cabin in Gidimt'en territory
RCMP officers lean over an individual lying on the ground as they perform arrests in a small one-room wooden structure in Gidimt'en territory
RCMP officers make arrests at Coyote Camp
A crowd of officers, including militarized police, wait in the courtyard outside of the tiny house dwelling as supporters and media are arrested.

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