Woman journalist who made history after interviewing Taliban spokesperson flees Afghanistan

·2-min read

The reporter who interviewed a Taliban spokesperson after they seized power this month has fled Afghanistan as questions linger over the future of female journalists in the country.

Beheshta Arghan of Tolo News, Afghanistan’s only international channel, interviewed Taliban spokesperson Mawlawi Abdullhaq Hemad on 17 August and grilled him over concerns over women’s rights following the Taliban’s seizure of power in Kabul and the collapse of Ashraf Ghani’s government that week.

The interview was broadcast live on the channel and created a stir as Ms Arghan was the only Afghan female journalist to interview one of the fighters of the group.

Two days later, she also interviewed Malala Yousafzai, the activist who survived a Taliban assassination attempt, in what Tolo described as the first time that Ms Yousafzai had ever been interviewed on Afghan TV.

However, the 24-year-old journalist has now fled the country, according to CNN, because she felt it was dangerous for her to continue living in Afghanistan. She reportedly left on a Qatari flight on Tuesday with other members of her family.

On Sunday, CNN anchor Brian Patrick Stelter featured Ms Arghan’s story on his show Reliable Sources, where he shared what she had to say about leaving the country last week.

“I left because, like millions of people, I fear the Taliban.”

Ms Arghan said that she took the step of posing tough questions to the Taliban because someone had to.

“It’s so difficult but I did it for Afghan women,” she was quoted by CNN as saying. “I told myself, ‘one of us must start’.”

Taliban has claimed that women can continue working and their rights will be respected as per Islamic sharia law. However, recent reports coming out of the war-ravaged country have not been encouraging.

Ms Arghan told CNN: “If the Taliban do what they said, what they promised, and the situation becomes better, and I know I am safe and there is no threat for me, I will go back to my country and I will work for my country. For my people.”

Tolo owner Saad Mohseni told CNN that most of the independent outlet’s well-known reporters have fled over safety concerns.

“We have the twin challenge of getting people out [because they feel unsafe] and keeping the operation going,” Mr Mohseni told CNN.

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