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Taliban leader threatens newspapers that publish "offensive" photos

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the threats made by a Taliban religious leader in the northwestern Tribal Areas on 1 May against journalists who continue to publish "offensive" and "vulgar" photos of women. According to the "Daily Times", the warning was issued to journalists in Khar, in the Tribal Area of Bajaur, by Faqir Muhammad, the deputy commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which means the Pakistan Taliban Movement.

"I issue a warning to newspapers that publish these photos and I give them two weeks, otherwise we will launch a boycott and take measures against these publications," Muhammad was quoted as saying. He stressed that Pakistan was a Muslim country and accused some newspapers, especially the Urdu-language "Al-Kaaj" and "Express", of publishing "extremely vulgar" photos. He did not say what measures would be taken against them after the deadline expires.

Muhammad also gave all men living in the Tribal Areas two months to grow beards as required, he said, under Islam, and warned the federal government not to attempt any armed action against his movement. The TTP, which supports Al-Qaeda, has agreed to a cease-fire and is seeking a peace accord with the Pakistani government.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the "talibanisation" of Pakistan's Tribal Areas. The armed Islamist groups operating have been included in the Reporters Without Borders 2008 list of "Predators of Press Freedom."

For further information on past Taliban warnings against publishing photographs of women, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/91619

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