Taliban orders Afghan ban on access to Internet

ISLAMABAD - The head of Afghanistan's Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar, ordered a ban on Saturday on access to the Internet.

The decree, read on the hardline Islamic group's Radio Shariat, said the only permitted Internet connection would be in the Office of the Supreme Leader "to be accessed by a trusted man."

The decree said government offices that felt they needed access to the Internet for work purposes could write to Omar's office but added that the ban would be strictly enforced.

"The office of communications is ordered to find ways to ensure that use of the internet becomes impossible," the decree said. "The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the religious police) is obliged to monitor the order and punish violators."

Most of Afghanistan's infrastructure has been destroyed in more than two decades of war and there are few telephone lines inside the country and almost none to the outside world. Most of the many foreign aid organisations providing basic services to the country depend on satellite telephones.

The Taliban's extreme interpretation of Islam has included bans on television, radio, music and dancing. This year they destroyed giant statues of the Buddha, the country's greatest historic treasures, as part of a ban on all portrayal of animate life.

13:29 08-25-01

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