ISLAMABAD ( Associated Press) — The Taliban have arrested a well-known Afghan model and three of his colleagues, accusing them of disrespecting the Koran, the Muslim holy book, according to videos released by Afghanistan’s rulers.
Ajmal Haqiqi – known for his fashion shows, YouTube videos and other events – was shown in handcuffs in videos posted on Twitter by the Taliban’s intelligence agency.
In a video circulating widely on social media, Haqiqi is seen laughing as his colleague Ghulam Sakhi — who has a speech impediment that he uses humorously — recites verses from the Koran in Arabic, in a humorous tone.
Following the arrest, the Taliban released a video of Haqiqi and his colleagues, standing in jail uniforms, apologizing to the Taliban government and religious scholars.
The video was accompanied by a tweet in the Dari language, which reads: “No one can insult the Qur’anic verses or the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.”
On Wednesday night, Amnesty International issued a statement calling on the Taliban to “immediately and unconditionally” release Haqiqi and his colleagues.
Amnesty has documented several arbitrary arrests by the Taliban in Afghanistan, often accompanied by forced statements in an attempt to stifle dissent in the country.
Samira Hamidi of Amnesty International South Asia denounced the arrests, saying that by arresting “Haqiqi and his colleagues and forcing them to apologize”, the Taliban had launched “a blatant attack on the right to freedom of expression”. She condemned in her statement the continued “censorship (by the Taliban) of those who want to freely express their opinions.”