The Taliban’s “General Directorate of Intelligence” on Tuesday arrested Afghan fashion model and YouTube celebrity Ajmal Haqiqi and three of his friends for “insulting Islamic sacred values.”
The arrest was itself videotaped and distributed on social media by the extremist regime.
The Taliban, which overthrew the elected government of Afghanistan after President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal of American forces last year, styles its regime as an “Islamic Emirate.” The group enforces its severe interpretation of Muslim law upon its subjects.
Haqiqi was arrested for a YouTube video in which he laughed while his friend Gholam Sakhi, a self-described former drug addict with a “mental condition,” read passages from the Quran in a silly voice.
Haqiqi and Sakhi were dragged away in handcuffs, along with two friends who also appeared in the video, by Taliban enforcers. They were charged with “promoting indecency and lewdness” and “insulting Quranic verses.” The arrest was recorded and distributed on social media as a warning to others.
“No one is allowed to insult or ridicule the verses of the Quran, the Prophet’s hadiths, or Islamic sanctities under the rule of the Islamic system,” the Taliban’s intelligence agency said.
Haqiqi reappeared in what looked like a forced-confession video after his arrest, claiming he was paid by the U.S.-supported government of Afghanistan to “promote indecencies and foreign culture.”
“I apologize to the Afghan people, to esteemed religious scholars and to the government of the Islamic Emirate,” Haqiqi said in the disturbing video.
“My message to all YouTubers and the youth active in the media is to seriously avoid making any insults to Islamic sacred values,” he said, apparently reading from a prepared script.
“Arbitrarily detaining YouTuber Haqiqi and his colleagues and coercing them into apologizing because the Taliban de-facto authorities were offended by the video is a blatant attack on the right to freedom of expression. The Taliban must immediately and unconditionally release the YouTubers and end their continued censorship of those who wish to freely express their ideas,” Amnesty International (AI) said on Wednesday.
“This incident is a classic example of how the Taliban is creating a climate of fear in Afghanistan by using arbitrary arrests and coercion to force people into silence,” AI said.