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August 4, 2009

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Shiny new cell phones prohibited by Taliban

THE Taliban have warned Afghans that possessing pictures of "unrelated women and handsome boys" was against Islamic law and owning "shiny new phones" runs contrary to their religious dignity.

The Taliban have been posting "night letters" in the volatile southeastern province of Ghazni, reminding Afghans of their religious obligations and reiterating warnings that they will attempt to disrupt crucial presidential elections on August 20.

In a restatement of the Taliban's austere interpretation of Islam, one letter warned people, especially the young, against using high-tech gadgets such as cell phones with photography and video functions.

"People with camera cellphones must not have pictures of unrelated women and handsome boys in their phones, which is against Islamic sharia," reads one letter, obtained yesterday. Sharia is Islamic religious law.

"People should think of their Afghan dignity rather than buying shiny phones," it said.

Mobile telephones also should not have "immoral video clips," ring tones with verses of the Koran, or derogatory messages against individuals or tribes. It regarded such offences as "a serious crime" that would be punished severely, the letter said.

The "night letters" have been springing up overnight in mosques and on the walls of Ghazni villages since last Friday.

The Taliban also warned voters in Ghazni to stay home from the day before the August 20 election or face serious consequences.

With attacks escalating across Afghanistan in recent weeks, the Taliban's leaders last week vowed to disrupt the poll, urging voters to boycott the ballot and "join the trenches of jihad."

The letters in Ghazni have even been distributed by hand in one district, telling voters polling stations will be targeted.

"In order that this illegitimate process faces failure, the fighters will intensively attack polling centers, and (we) warn voters to stay home one day before," read another letter.


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