UNESCO chief condemns assassination of Afghan TV personality

UNESCO chief condemns assassination of Afghan TV personality

Koïchiro Matsuura
The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has condemned the assassination of a former host of a controversial Afghan television music show.

Shaima Rezayee, 24, a former presenter with the privately-owned television station Tolo TV, was shot dead on 18 May in the capital Kabul, and is the first media personality to have been assassinated for her professional activities in Afghanistan since the end of the war in 2001.

UNESCO reported the non-governmental organization (NGO) Reporters Without Borders as saying that Ms. Rezayee was fired in late March after several clerics in Kabul said her show was "anti-Islamic," and should be taken off the air. Tolo TV was reportedly the target of near-constant criticism from religious leaders.

"I condemn the murder of Shaima Rezayee," UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said today, adding: "On no account can murder be considered as an instrument for cultural policy and it is outrageous to think that musical programming can justify the taking of life.

"The killing of Ms Rezayee is a cowardly criminal act that must be punished, to help Afghanistan move away from the obscurantist fanaticism that has caused immense suffering to so many people in the country in the recent past."