TOLOnews and other TV channels in Kabul on Sunday followed an order of the Ministry of Vice and Virtue regarding covering female presenters’ faces.
The Ministry of Vice and Virtue named Sunday morning as the final deadline, calling this order mandatory.
However, on Twitter TOLOnews stated it maintained there was no clear indication regarding covering female presenters' faces on TV programs in the recent decree about Hijab by the Islamic Emirate’s leadership.
In addition, TOLOnews said it "considers images of female presenters on TV as virtual and not the actual presence of women, and therefore stands on its position regarding this matter."
The male presenters of TOLOnews in solidarity with female presenters appeared on air wearing masks.
TOLOnews’ Director, Khpolwak Sapai said that the Ministry of Vice and Virtue named Sunday as the final deadline.
“We have been told to implement this (decision) by the stated time and we did it today. But our arguments are twofold: first, that there was no clear indication regarding covering female presenters' faces on TV programs in the recent decree about Hijab by the Islamic Emirate’s leadership. Second, the images of female presenters on TV are virtual and not the actual presence of women, and therefore TOLOnews stands on its position regarding this matter,” Sapai said.
“I can’t breathe nor talk properly -- how will I be able to run the program?” said Khatira Ahmadi, a female presenter of TOLOnews.
“We were not ready mentally and morally that such things would be forced on us. Running three hours of programs with a mask is very difficult,” said Sonia Nizai, a female anchor of TOLOnews.
After the Islamic Emirate swept into power, the current Afghan government issued repeated statements regarding women including; closing girls' schools, banning women from going to work, the segregation of male and female student’s studying days in universities, banning women from traveling, as well as the dissolution of women-supporting organizations.
“Unfortunately, the imposed sanctions on Afghan women affects our county,” said Suraya Paikan, a political analyst.
The Ministry of Vice and Virtue said the observation of Hijab is mandatory.
“This is not our word, it is an order of God. Covering the face is a part of Hijab. But if the face is not covered, we cannot say it is not absolute observation of Hijab, but it is not a good observation of Hijab as it is supposed to be for women,” said Akif Mahajar, a spokesman for the ministry.