Taliban has taken over Afghanistan, again, after a futile pretence of an expensive and wasteful war by the USA was finally brought to an end and American troops just packed up and left, leaving the hollow Afghanistan ‘government’ to crumble and shatter. As expected, chaos ensued. People are so scared of the Taliban that they were clinging on to departing US C-17s, desperately trying to flee.
Shop owners are blackening or tearing away the pictures of women displayed on the front of their businesses, sales of burqas have gone up and thousands of Afghan nationals are flocking to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, every hour since August 15, in a desperate bid to escape from the Taliban rule.
Why are people flinging their babies over wire fences inside the airport into the hands of strangers? Why were thousands of people running away, why were they so desperate that they clung to the landing gear of a C-17, hoping against hope to escape their own homeland? Are those images a joke? Are all those people trying to flee from the Taliban just because they are misinformed? They are fleeing because the fear is real.
A certain group that calls itself ‘secular-liberal’ is on a mission, mission to mainstream, legitimise and hail the Taliban. We saw them praising the Taliban for holding a ‘press conference’. So what if they fling gay men from rooftops, they held a press conference. So what they stone women to death over vague allegations of adultery, they held a press conference. So what they killed Danish Siddiqui brutally, didn’t they say sorry?
The art of legitimisation is subtle. It takes time. It includes multiple steps. First, create an aura that they are ok, they are normal. Come Munawwar Rana and Shafiqur Rahman. Taliban are “freedom fighters” Taliban are heroes”. Hail them as better than democratically elected governments. “Wow, they held a press conference”.
Now, a dedicated bunch of “fact-checkers” are busy washing the Taliban’s laundry. They are sifting through the millions of images, videos shared on social media and trying to check whether the precise date, timestamp and geographical locations are in accordance with the current group of Talibani forces active in Afghanistan. The parameters obviously do not match, so the “fact-checkers” declare that X claim against the Taliban is fake, Y picture is from 2018, THAT image is not THIS Taliban at all. Here are some examples.
Recently, AP, Reuters and AltNews took it upon themselves to “clarify” that an image of where three women were seen with chains tied to their ankles and a man leading the chain was fake. It was apparently from Iraq and the chain was morphed. Fine. but does that mean Taliban atrocities against women were false claims? No.
Mainstream media is busy ‘fact-checking’ claims of Taliban atrocities. Those claims exist because the atrocities are real. No matter how many press conferences the Taliban hold, no matter how many “fact-checks” are done, no one can negate or deny what the Taliban did.
People are sharing information, images and videos not because they are a part of some political campaign against the Taliban, not because they don’t want the Taliban to win the next elections in Afghanistan or they just don’t want to vote for them (as if that was even an option). They are sharing images and videos because they are scared. The images and videos exist because the Taliban was, and continues to be a radical Islamist regime that ruled with utmost barbarity.
The following are legitimate images, one by Reuters and another by France 24. The images, if shared now by some social media user, may or may not correspond to an exact date, time or location to pass the stringent standards of these so-called “fact-checkers”, they may be representational in some news reports, but they exist because Taliban atrocities exist.
The images of women displayed in posters before beauty salons being blackened, torn are real too. Taliban atrocities and the fear in the minds of people who do not conform to their regime of radical Islam and stringent Sharia law are as real as the footage of two men falling from the C-17.
The people who are sharing the images of horror, past and present, do not need to check the date, time and individual facial identities of Taliban radicals inflicting those horrors. They do not have to. Because that horror has been lived and experienced by the millions in Afghanistan.
Terror is terror, whether it happens in Pakistan or Afghanistan
A video was shared by many including ANI’s Smita Prakash, where a group of terrorists were seen dancing to a western song holding assault rifles. Prakash had shared the video with a jovial comment, “What is this Taliban, no shame or what”. Alt News “fact-checked” it so diligently that they reached out to one of those people brandishing assault rifles at a wedding, who apparently lives in Pakistan, and claimed that the video was from a wedding at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Their “fact-check” was that crazy men dancing with assault rifles are not “recent”, they were dancing in March 2021 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
All those so-called “fact-checks” are of the same format. This murder happened in that year, This Taliban atrocity happened X years ago, how can you say it is recent, etc etc. Twitter had even flagged Prakash’ tweet as ‘out of context’.
A video of AK rifle-wielding terrorists issuing threats to Modi and India is apparently from 2 years ago, Alt News has informed us. Oh, that horrible image of a woman brutally mob lynched to death? that is not now, come on, that happened in 2015, Alt News has announced to reassure the world.
अफ़गानिस्तान की महिला पायलट साफ़िया फिरोज़ी की हत्या के दावे के साथ एक तस्वीर वायरल हुई. दरअसल, ये तस्वीर 2015 की है जब काबुल में कुछ लोगों की भीड़ ने पत्थर मार-मारकर फ़रखुंदा मलिकज़ादा की हत्या कर दी थी. पढ़िये #AltNewsFactCheck | @Priyankajha0 https://t.co/HkrJE52shS— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) August 19, 2021
Just because Islamists killed THAT particular woman X years ago, the Taliban did that horrible thing in X location, and the exact date of the Y brutality is wrong, does not mean that Taliban has changed. They are still radical Islamist terrorists.
They fired bullets at unarmed civilians in Jalalabad just 2 days back. They dragged an injured Danish Siddiqui from a mosque and riddled him with bullets just a few weeks back. While the “fact-checkers” add more detergent to wash their laundry, the Taliban have already started killing people and attacking journalists. No amount of press conferences or fact checkings are going to convert them into fluffy little bunnies, because they are radical Islamist terrorists who kill people, blow up centuries-old monuments and impose barbaric laws. Because that is who they are.
Not just Alt News, many international media organisations, even Twitter, are busy “fact-checking” whether the videos and images of the Taliban’s atrocities are accurate in terms of a dozen different parameters or not. They need to understand that the date, time, precise geographical locations, facial features, the colour of garments, manufacturing year of those assault rifles, pixel qualities, etc of those images do not matter at all. People are not sharing them out of malicious intent, or political motivations. They are being shared because the fear is real. The fear is real because the tales of brutalities are real. The Taliban are, and always have been a brutal, radical Islamist organisation and even after 1000 whitewashing attempts, they are going to stay the same.