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Afghan TV Continues Showing Female Singers

Kabul, 17 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan state television today pressed ahead with broadcast of women singers despite objections raised by the country's Supreme Court.

The BBC reports that Kabul TV today showed footage of 1960s singing star Ustad Mahwash.

Television officials sparked a public row earlier this week by broadcasting a program featuring Salma, a female singer who was popular in the 1970s and 1980s. It was the first time since the fall of the Soviet-backed secular regime in 1992 that a woman singer had appeared on Afghan television.

The Supreme Court immediately demanded that such broadcasts be stopped. But Culture Minister Sayed Makhdoom Raheen backed the initiative, saying Afghanistan's new constitution gives men and women equal rights.

Afghan Transitional Authority President Hamid Karzai has pointed out that there has been a tradition of women singers on television and radio in the country, but has not given his opinion on the issue.