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ICC Note:

The following story shows the strength that the Taleban still maintains in some parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan . It is this continued presence of excessively strict Islamic authority that makes religious freedom such a difficult concept even for the less radical Muslims in the region.

AsiaNews/PD (06/12/06) – Religious leaders and Taleban members in North Waziristan in Pakistan yesterday issued public notices across the region warning people of “serious repercussions” for those indulging in “un-Islamic activities” like watching films and listening to music.

The declaration came a day after a stronghold of Islamic militants was bombed; around 20 guerrillas were killed in the attack.

The Taleban warned local tribes about the dangers of indulging in “hashish, heroin and wine, and gambling”; tribesmen were also advised to steer clear of “un-Islamic” video and audio cassettes and dish antennas in houses and bazaars.

Betting has also been banned and from now on, gambling dens – according to the notice –“will be used for more noble purposes”. Interest loans, which “go against all Islamic teachings”, have also been prohibited.

The notice ended by saying: “Any person committing these atrocities will be punished accordingly even if civil authorities find them innocent and spare them.”

Local anonymous sources said “most local tribesmen supported the announcement, believing its implementation is a sure way towards peace and prosperity in the region, which has long been shaken by internal tribal clashes.”