RealNews

Taliban shadow falls on North West Frontier

In the Pakistani border province an Islamist government is imposing the sort of restrictions that once made Afghanistan notorious. Early every day after morning prayers Mohammed Zulfikar spends more than an hour setting up a small kerbside stall, at which he will remain until long past sundown, selling music cassettes and CDs. He used to make 500-600 rupees (£5-7) a day – good money in a place where more than 40% live on less than a pound a day – but business has dropped considerably in the past six months as the government has pursued a campaign to “Islamise” the already conservative North West Frontier province of Pakistan. People still stop to look and buy, but most look over their shoulder to see who is watching. He has stopped selling CDs of such potentially objectionable artists as Jennifer Lopez and Madonna, hoping to avoid the fate of dozens of other businesses here picked on by religious vigilantes. Since the United Action Forum (MMA) of six religious parties swept into power vowing to eradicate social evil and create the ideal Islamic society, groups of young men have taken to attacking cinemas, music shops, and billboards showing women. Musicians and dancers have been driven from the province by systematic harassment, and the mobs have torn cassette players out of buses and cut cable television network connections. Full Story

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