In a video released by the fundamentalist militants, Ajmal Haqiqi, famous for his fashion shows and YouTube videos, was seen handcuffed. Dressed in brown jail uniforms, the model and his colleagues were videotaped apologising to the Taliban and religious scholars.
The Taliban shared the video with a tweet in Dari, saying: “No one is allowed to insult Quranic verses or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Those who have recently insulted and ridiculed the holy verses of the Quran were arrested.”
In a widely-shared video, Mr Haqiqi was reportedly seen laughing at his colleague Ghulam Sakhi — who has a speech impediment — reciting Quran verses in Arabic, in a comical voice.
On 5 June, the model posted a video on his YouTube channel apologising to “scholars and people of Afghanistan” for this.
However, the group was arrested by the ruling Taliban on charges of “insulting Islamic sacred values”.
The Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence on 7 June shared a highly-edited video of the handcuffed men apologising for insulting the religion.
The next day, rights advocate Amnesty International released a statement urging the Taliban to “immediately and unconditionally” release Mr Haqiqi and his colleagues.
Amnesty said it has documented several instances of such arbitrary detentions often accompanied by coerced statements in an attempt to stifle dissent in the country.
اجمل حقیقی را هنگامی شناختم و علاقهمندش شدم که زندهگی یک جوان را نجات داد و او را از جهان سیاه اعتیاد به جامعه انسانی برگشتاند، این کارش برای من یک قهرمانی است!
این جوان کار بدی انجام نداده است، لطفن برای آزادی شان بکوشید!@DeborahLyonsUN @SR_Afghanistan @US4AfghanPeace pic.twitter.com/xJgks5B0Qc
— Parwiz Shamal (@PShamal) June 7, 2022
Samira Hamidi, Amnesty’s South Asia campaigner, denounced the arrests and said that by detaining Haqiqi and his colleagues and “coercing them into apologising”, the Taliban have undertaken “a blatant attack on the right to freedom of expression”.
“The Taliban must immediately and unconditionally release the YouTubers and end their continued censorship of those who wish to freely express their ideas.”
Since wresting power from the Afghan government on 15 August 2021, the fundamentalists have imposed a plethora of rules that are reminiscent of the group’s past.