I recently had the privilege of meeting Afghanistan’s Ryan Seacrest, Daoud Seddiqi, and watching the documentary, Afghan Star. Daoud is the host of the show on Tolo TV, an independent television station in Afghanistan. From 1996 to 2001 music was illegal in Afghanistan. Watching TV and dancing were illegal. You can imagine the death threats and danger the contestants on Afghanistan’s version of American Idol faced (and the women especially still do).
One third of the country watched the finale of Afghan Star and voted for the multiple ethnicities up for the top prize. It was a fulfilling democratic experience for them.
Daoud says that he is a Muslim but these guys who say music is banned are just using this made up rule as a way to control others and grab power where they can. For 1000 years before the Taliban, Afghanistan was Muslim and music was okay. There is a tradition of music in Islamic societies. Countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia don’t know what the Taliban is talking about. The key to change is young people. Afghanistan is a young society. The key is media. None gets through in very controlled areas of the country.
So the Haredim I referred to in my July column are right? Even if they are, I say you shouldn’t be afraid that your way of life won’t stand up to outside influences.
More importantly, this is an important reminder of the power of the media to build democracy in a time where it is struggling to survive. As I note in my July column, we should use the media to learn about our differences and then learn how to be together.
More articles on the future of the Jewish press….
Jerusalem Post (Correction: The AJPA conference was down only 30% from last year’s level, and that conference had an all-time-high attendance level).
An ‘ever-dying’ medium by Andrew Silow-Carroll, New Jersey Jewish News Editor-in-Chief