30 April 2017

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Sunday March 12, 2017

Kabul (BNA) Security and cultural officials in northern Balkh province reported on taking necessary measures for Nawroz celebration. 
Mohammad Salih Khaliq, head of information and culture department in Balkh told that Nawroz Festival is held as a national and cultural move and will be continued for forty days. Nawroz celebration is held with taking special measures in Mazar-e-Sharif, due to which a commission has been established under chairmanship of the province’s governor, Ustad Atta Mohammad Noor.
The related commission has 9 committees that are responsible for paintings, decoration, lightening, cleaning, procurement, etc. in the province. On activities of the cultural committee, Khaliq said our work was mostly related to media, as since beginning of Hoot 15, all Balkh media outlets provide Nawroz programs as well as they cover Nawroz news as live. During Nawroz celebration, many new media outlets and cultural centers will be inaugurated as well as poetry and cultural exhibitions would be held with the presence of officials from Kabul and Balkh provinces. Necessary preparations will be taken for Samanak Festival, Khaliq said, adding likewise, Afghan singers and musicians are being invited by traders to Mazar-e-Sharif to hold concerts.
At the same time, Hasibullah Quraishi, police commander of public order and security in north said that since the last one week, we have taken necessary measures for Nawroz festival in Balkh. He added mobile patrols have been started in Mazar-e-Sharif and the province’s districts. Security officials in Balkh province have reported on ensuring security of Nawroz festival while currently, armed Taliban and other terrorist groups are doing their best to conduct subversive activities in its neighboring provinces. Nawroz is widely celebrated in Afghanistan. Also knows as Farmer’s Day, the observances usually last two weeks, culminating on the first day of the New Year, March 21. During the Taliban rule (1996-2001), Nawruz was banned and considered an ‘ancient pagan holiday centered on fire worship’. Preparations for Nawroz start several days beforehand.  Among various traditions and customs, the most important ones are as following: Guli Surkh Festival, literally means Red Flower Festival (referring to the red Tulip flowers) is the principal festival for Nawroz. It is celebrated in Mazar-e-Sharif during the first 40 days of the year when the Tulip flowers grow in the green plains and on the hills surrounding the city. Janda Bala, it is celebrated on the first day of the New Year, and is attended by high-ranking government officials. The ceremony is performed by raising a special banner whose color configuration resembles Derafsh Kaviani. As well as, Buzkashi, Haft Mewa (literally translates as Seven Fruits), and Samanak are among the celebrations marked during New Year Festival.
Karima Malikzada

Sunday March 12, 2017

Kabul (BNA) A one day conference initiated by the Swedish embassy on ‘Safeguarding the space for free media in Afghanistan’ was held at European Union Headquarter here yesterday.
The conference which was attended by foreign diplomats and government officials, including the senior presidential advisor on public relation and strategic affairs as well as ambassador at large for freedom of expression, Nader Naderi, deputy minister of publication Sayeda Mojgan Mostafavi, Swedish ambassador Anders Sjoberg, media advocates, journalists and reporters, the participants discussed challenges before free media activities and the ways to find solution for them. Welcoming the participants, the Swedish ambassador said the event was being organized at the time that Afghanistan and the world facing the common security challenges. Besides presenting his condolence over attack on Sardar Mohamamd Daud Khan Hospital, Anders Sjoberg said the event was held for the third year in a row to remember Swedish reporter Nils Horner, 51, who was killed in unprecedented execution-style attack in Kabul’s diplomatic district in 2014 as well as to promote free media activities and institutionalize freedom of expression in Afghanistan.
“2016 has been a bloody year for Afghan media and I want to pay tribute to sacrifices of Afghan journalists during the noblest way of reporting,” the ambassador said, adding many world countries, including Sweden struggling with fake news being circulated through the social media, calling such news concerning in Afghan social media pages during such juncture of time. The ambassador during his remarks hoped the conference to find solution for countering such propaganda and fake news in social media. Meanwhile Nader Naderi, presidential senior advisor and ambassador at large to freedom of expression thanked Swedish embassy for initiating such conference, adding Afghanistan has passed 15 years with commitments toward safeguarding the free media activities. “Regulating the media activities has been government’s main achievements. With inauguration of the new government, the law on access to information was codified and a presidential decree prevented government officials to disturb free media activities across the country,” Naderi said. Hinting to immunity of journalists, the presidential advisor said besides Taliban, the government officials have been also the main challenge before the safety of journalists, adding the safety committee was established to address such challenges which clearly shows government’s commitments toward free media activities and institutionalization of the freedom of expression.
“The reporters should feel responsible themselves while reporting, considering the situation, people and the national interest,” Naderi added, saying no one can prevent free activities of media, neither government nor the insurgents. Addressing the conference, deputy minister of publication Sayeda Mojgan Mostafavi said Afghanistan has got much achievements comparing the regional countries, however according to her violence against journalists remained a major challenge, which has also contributed to putting Afghanistan into red list of the Reporters’ sans Frontier index.
“Fake news in social media is still a main challenge, but new law on social media regulation to be soon finalized,” Mostafavi said, hoping 2017 to be a good year for media activities in Afghanistan. The conference then followed with two panels and QA sessions. The first panel with Najiba Ayoubi head of the Kleed group, Najiba Maram director of publications at the Ministry of Information and Culture, Mujib Khelwatgar CEO of Nai agency, Danesh Karokhel member of the commission on access to information as the members and Fayaz as the moderator discussed the challenges before the access to information in the country.
Pointing to unique achievements in term of media activities, Khelwatgar said the information needed to be classified, so that to ease access to information. According to him there is no exact definition of the media, as there are different media operating in the country on behalf of the political parties, social organizations and some others which undermines the freedom of expressions. Meanwhile Shafiqa Ayoubi and Danesh Karokhel pointed to challenges and achievements of the media, calling proper implementation of the law on access to information as the main solution for challenges. The second panel with Najib Sharifi member of the safety committee for journalists, Lotfullah Najafizada editor-in-chief of Tolo News, Maria Raheen head of journalism faculty of Balkh University and Seddiq Seddiqi spokesperson for Ministry of Interior as the members discussed challenges and solutions for safety of journalists in the country. Calling increasing insecurity in the country as the main challenge before safety of the journalists, Najib Sharifi said Daesh threatens the free media and freedom of expression, adding the safety committee was established to deal such challenges in close cooperation with line ministries.
Meanwhile Tolo News editor-in-chief said in a country where nearly six thousands of security personnel, 11 thousands of civilian and over 15 thousands of insurgent were killed last year, there would be differently attacks on journalists. “After 20 January 2016 attack on Tolo staffs, a media which has one thousands of employees, most of our staffs were forced to leave the works due to fears from the insurgents, but they were committed to their job and continued their duties,” Najafizada said. According to him the policy of Tolo News didn’t changed after the attack and continued to cover the incidents timely. Maria Raheen another participant of the second panel spoke related to women presence in media, calling insecurity the main challenge before women presence in media.
According to her officials should cooperate and increase women’s leadership role not only in public spheres but also in media. Seddiq Seddiqi, spokesperson to ministry of interior said Afghan security forces pay much attention to fight against terrorism, so that to defend the territorial integrity. According to him, Taliban tried to disturb media activities after US-led NATO forces withdrawal, but couldn’t reach to their vicious goals. He called establishment of safety committee as the biggest achievement of government and its commitment toward media activities in the country. The second panel also followed by questions of the participants and answers from the panelists. The conference was ended with closing remarks by the Swedish ambassador, calling the debates as energetic between the government officials, media advocates and the participants.

Sunday March 12, 2017

Kabul (BNA) Prof. Mohammad Rasoul Bawari, deputy minister of cultural affairs and acting minister of information and culture met with members of youth consultative council of Kandahar here yesterday, BNA reported.
According to the agency, acting minister of information and culture vowed to spare no effort in addressing the problems of the country’s youth, asking the youth to share their problems with deputy minister of youth affairs. Enumerating a number of their council’s activities, the youth asked the acting minister to pay necessary attentions to Kandahar historical monuments. They also asked for introducing of Kandahar youth to private higher education institutions through the agreement reached between the ministry and said institutions, the agency added. At the end the acting minister vowed to address their problems.

Saturday March 11, 2017

Kabul (BNA) Sama is a Sufi dance performed in Turkey. Currently, a large number of boys and some girls have been interested in performing the dance in Balkh where enthusiasts for this dance have wanted to enliven it in the province.
The Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi order are probably the best-known practitioners of Sama. Mevlevi practitioners of sema are adult initiates into the order, which historically only meant men. Participants move as a group in a circle while also turning each individually. Sama is a means of meditating on God through focusing on melodies and dancing. It brings out a person’s love of God, purifies the soul, and is a way of finding God. This practice is said to reveal what is already in one’s heart, rather than creating emotions. All of a per Enthusiasts for Sama dance increasing in Balkh son’s doubt disappears, and the heart and soul can communicate directly with God. Related to Sama dance in Balkh, provincial director of information and culture Salih Mohammad Khaleeq told, “Sama dance ceremony has been held in the province for the past years, but it has been common in Khorasan since 4th solar century.”
“Nearly six years ago when ‘Mehr Religion’ was common in our land Aryana, similar dances were performed. We are trying to have Sama dance in Balkh as most of the people pay visit to the province in particular on Mawlana Day marked in September every year”, Khaleeq asserted. According to Balkh provincial director of information and culture, there are still no individuals who can read out and sing poems of Mawlana and perform the Sama dance in a proper way in the province despite that the dance started two years ago. He stressed on naturalizing the Sama dance in Balkh as they could not copy all issues in this regard, adding that fortunately poets of Mawlana in Mathnavi and Shams were in Persian; therefore, the dance should be also native and songs sung should be from Mawlana’s own poems.
“There are 17 youths trained in Balkh for performing the Sama dance group participating in a number of great occasions and conferences as the Third International Conference on Afghanistan and Central Asia Talks, Khudawandgar Balkh International Conference and ECO Conference and were lauded by domestic and foreign guests”, Khaleeq asserted. Related to better learning of Sama dance, Khaleeq said, “For better and professional learning of the dance, a dancer group has been dispatched to Turkey to learn all forms of the dance as a large number of boys and girls have been interested in performing the dance, but girls will not be trained due to current circumstances”. According to founder of Sama dance group Mehdi Niazi, we have wanted to get our lost heritage which is Mawlana Sufi School ‘Sama’ back and show to the world that we are the owner of this heritage ‘Sama’ dance and we will be. As Sama dance group started to perform it two years ago in Balkh, it has got a good position in the province where youth now perform the dance in wedding parties in Mazar-e-Sharif, capital city of Balkh and we hope that Sama dance form will not be changed.
Karima Malikzada

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