Filed Under: International

Afghanistan’s social influencers fear for their freedom and their lives

By

Ayeda Shadab is Afghanistan’s leading social media influencer with more than 290,000 followers–even more than the country’s president. As the Taliban reassert control in the country and the threat of sharia law looms large, some Afghanistan-based influencers have reduced their social media presence and made their previously public accounts private.

TAYLOR KNIGHT:

IN AFGHANISTAN, GIRLS COULD ATTEND SCHOOL, WOMEN RAN BUSINESSES, AND FASHION SURGED ON SOCIAL MEDIA. 

THIS HELPED LEAD TO THE RISE OF AFGHAN INFLUENCERS. 

NOW THE TALIBAN CONTROL MAY ROLL BACK MUCH OF THE TWO DECADES OF PROGRESS IN AFGHANISTAN GIVEN ITS RESTRICTIVE APPROACH TO WOMEN’S RIGHTS.

WHEN THE TALIBAN LAST RULED, THEY ENFORCED THEIR INTERPRETATION OF THE SHARIA LAW. WOMEN WERE FORCED TO WERE BURQAS AND GIRLS COULD NOT ATTEND SCHOOL.

MANY ARE HOLDING THEIR BREATH WAITING TO SEE WHAT THE TALIBAN WILL DO.

LIKE AYEDA SHADAB WHO SPOKE ON THE BBC ABOUT LIFE AS AN INFLUENCER IN AFGHANISTAN. 

AYEDA SHADAB: “THERE IS A LOT OF RISK, WE ARE RISKING OUR LIVES ACTUALLY”

TAYLOR KNIGHT: A SPOKESMAN FOR THE TALIBAN TOLD CNN REPORTER THAT WOMEN WILL HAVE THEIR FULL RIGHTS UNDER –ISLAMIC LAW.

TALIBAN SPOKESMAN: “WOMEN HAVE THEIR OWN RIGHTS, HOW MUCH ISLAM HAS GIVEN TO WOMEN, WE WILL GIVE THEM THAT MUCH.” 

TAYLOR KNIGHT: MANY WOMEN ARE IN HIDING – INCLUDING  HIDING ONLINE.

SOME OF AFGHANISTAN’S LEADING SOCIAL INFLUENCERS ARE REDUCING THEIR ONLINE PRESENCE. 

 PHOTOGRAPHER, RO YA HEYDARI-  SHARES PHOTOS OF AFGHAN PEOPLE IN DISTRESS. SHE RECENTLY CHANGED HER INSTAGRAM PAGE TO PRIVATE.

 ONE OF THE BIGGEST SOCIAL INFLUENCERS PAGE IS NOW PRIVATE TOO.

AYEDA SHADAB BECAME AN INFLUENCER BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF FASHION OPPORTUNITIES IN AFGHANISTAN.

 SHE HAS MORE THAN  TWO HUNDRED AND NINTY THOUSAND INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS PROVIDING LIFESTYLE CONTENT FROM AFGHANISTAN THAT MOST WESTERN VIEWERS DO NOT GET TO SEE.   

AYEDA SHADAB: “THE SITUATION IS NOT THAT GOOD IN AFGHANISTAN, BUT WE HOPE FOR THE BEST.” 

TAYLOR KNIGHT: PROFESSOR SHER JAN AHMADZAI WITH SAYS NOW THAT THE TALIBAN ARE IN CHARGE, EVERYTHING INCLUDING SOCIAL MEDIA WILL CHANGE.

SHER JAN AHMADZAI: “THOSE ARE THE LIBERTIES LOST IN AFGHANISTAN AT THE MOMENT. I KNOW, IT’S VERY EARLY TO COMMENT ON THE FUTURE. BUT WE ARE YET TO SEE WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR AFGHANS. AND THAT MIGHT BE DIFFICULT FOR YOUNGSTERS TO LIVE UNDER SUCH HARSH CONDITIONS.” 

TAYLOR KNIGHT: WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO INFLUENCERS IS STILL VERY MUCH UP IN THE AIR… AND LIKELY ENTIRELY IN TALIBAN HANDS.

Ayeda Shadab is Afghanistan’s leading social media influencer with more than 290,000 followers–even more than the country’s president. As the Taliban reassert control in the country and the threat of sharia law looms large, some Afghanistan-based influencers have reduced their social media presence and made their previously public accounts private.

Related Reports


Get unbiased straight facts, context, and perspective!