London, Jan 11 : The stereotypical Indian soap operas might represent the ideals and morals of the quintessential family in India, but in Afghanistan they are seen as the epitome of 'immorality.' he country's Islamic Council of Scholars has won the support of a leading government minister in its crusade to boot out dozens of popular Bombay dramas from Afghanistan's television screens.
Afghanistan's Minister of Information and Culture has warned television executives that they could face prosecution, if they continue airing Indian soaps.
The minister's announcement came after several clerics met President Hamid Karzai a week ago to demand an outlaw on shows that they claim are "spreading immorality and un-Islamic culture".
The dramas, which have won thousands of devotees in India, have earned the wrath of Afghanistan's new moral enforcers, who fear that the soaps will spark a rage of "stone worship", or veneration of Hindu idols.
Tolo TV, Afghanistan's first commercial channel, airs three Indian dramas, 'Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki' or 'The Story of Every House'; 'Kasautii Zindagi Kay' or 'The Trials of Life'; and 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi' or 'Because a Mother-in-Law Was Once a Daughter-in-Law Too'.
The enforcers' main concern is that these dramas are promoting "stone-worship" even though Hindu images are pixellated and scenes of Hindu worship are sliced.
The campaigners are also calling for an action to get a young generation of rappers and pop stars off air, with the old men accusing the musicians of poisoning the nation's moral standards.
The hardliners are urging the govt to ban Tolo TV's pop programmes - Hop, a local MTV-style show, and Afghan Star, a talent contest.
"The unrestrained programmes on TV have angered and prompted the ulemas [scholars] to react. Hop ... is spreading immoralities and hurts the sacred religion of Islam. Afghan Star encourages immorality ... and is against Sharia," Times Online quoted an Islamic council spokesman, as saying.
However, experts say that battle to expurgate television is also a throwback to the days of Taliban rule when entertainment was forbidden.
"We have so many problems in this country - kidnapping, terrorism, inflation - so why is the Government making a big deal about something which is pleasing to the eyes and ears of most Afghans?" Saad Mohseni, the director of Tolo TV, said.