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Afghanistan 'bans' the Internet

Linda Harrison's recent piece on the Taliban's efforts to 'ban' the Internet provoked applause and anger in equal measure. Eleanor Durrant wrote:

Thanks for your article about this new restriction. Computer training (and learning English) have been banned in Afghanistan for some time.

I don't know whether you know how important the internet has been for the anti-fundamentalist resistance in Afghanistan, such as it is?

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), a feminist pro-democracy organisation, runs illegal schools for girls and adult women, and tries to deliver a little health care to women, inside Afghanistan. It also works with Afghan refugees in Pakistan. All members of RAWA have been condemned to death by stoning if caught. I know there are various definitions of 'feminist', but RAWA's is essentially that human rights such as the right to work apply to both men and women. In Afghanistan this is 'revolutionary'.

RAWA has got in touch with supporters all over the world through its website, www.rawa.org. For instance I correspond by email and sometimes do some shopping for them here in London - for things like medical books, and a cable for a digital camera which you can't get in Quetta. It's hard to describe how amazing this is, but if you saw the recent documentary on Channel 4 - the footage of the execution was the video on RAWA's website, and they can do that because people in the USA hold car boot sales for them, and people like me go shopping in Tottenham Court Road.

It is pretty clear that the Taliban recogise, quite correctly, that the Internet is a serious threat to them. They may say it's because there's a lot of smut on the internet, but (as some of the abuse in RAWA's guestbook shows) to the Taliban *all* information is immoral.

Well, that's one opinion. Dev Spirit begs to differ:

If you want to talk about womens rights then sort something out about the amount of women that are exploited in this country (porn, advertising, the office, the home). Oh, but hang on, I guess you think that women in this country are 'liberated' and 'free'. And just what is your problem about "illegal sexual relations" ? Do you think it is a good idea that 12 year old girls have babies and the father is nowhere to be seen ? Do you think its fair for me as a tax payer to pay for the result of those two idiots having "illegal sexual relations" ?

Rather than trying to make fun out of issues that are considered important by some people, why don't you look beyond the words and actually sit and think about them ? You might become a better person for it :-)

Do some proper research before you publish crap articles like that.

Yes Linda, do some proper research. What you've done is you've gone and got your Islamic fundamentalist Afghanistan mixed up with the other Afghanistan - that shining beacon of democracy and women's rights. Now get your knickers on and make us all a nice cup of tea, there's a good girl.

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