Male journalists in Afghanistan cover their faces on TV in solidarity with women colleagues after new Taliban decree

Last Thursday, the Taliban in Afghanistan ordered women reporters to cover their faces while presenting the news on television. And to show solidarity, their male colleagues are choosing to do the same.

Although most news outlets didn't immediately comply to the Taliban's barbaric decree, according to The Guardian, by Sunday most women reporters appeared on television with covered faces. The order for women reporters came shortly after the Taliban, earlier this month, said that girls and women should never leave their houses, but when it's necessary to do so, must cover up their entire body, allowing only their eyes to show.

As women reporters appeared on air with face coverings, so did male reporter Sebghat Sepehr and most of the other men at TOLO News (images below).

From The Guardian:

In a protest dubbed #FreeHerFace on social media, men on Tolo News wore masks to mimic the effect of the face veil their female colleagues have been forced to wear after a Taliban crackdown. …

Lema Spesali, 27, a news anchor for 1TV in Kabul, told the Guardian she was given the news of the Taliban's latest decree on arrival at work on Sunday morning. "Two Taliban members came to our office and said the decision on compulsory masks for female anchors must be implemented.

"We had an office meeting and had to accept the Taliban order, but decided that male colleagues should also wear masks and stand by female colleagues."

And from NPR:

Male anchors at several prominent outlets, including TOLOnews and 1TVNews, have been broadcasting while wearing face coverings. And thus was born the social media campaign #FreeHerFace.

Journalists in and beyond Afghanistan are sharing selfies with their faces covered, in opposition to the Taliban's decree. But those in Afghanistan have taken a particular risk — because the Taliban have cracked down on opposition to their rule, including feminists holding pop-up demonstrations in the street. …

Some male anchors have spoken to media outlets about their decision to mask up.

"We stand beside our female colleagues and protest this order because we know how difficult it is to present on TV with your face covered," Idrees Farooqi, chief editor and head of news at 1TV, told Al Jazeera.

An anchor on a private TV channel, who asked not to be named because of security concerns, told The Guardian that he and other male colleagues had been wearing masks to work for two days, even though it made him feel "like someone has grabbed me by the throat and I cannot speak."

Still, he said they would keep wearing masks until the Taliban reconsiders.