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Taliban Now Forcing Afghans to Have Approved Ringtones...Such As 'Suicide Bomber

"Your white tender body has been burnt by fire..."

Ringtones on cellphones can be an outlet for self-expression, but in Afghanistan such expression outside of one carrying a Taliban message could result in death, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reports Haji Mohammad Khan, a 35-year-old man from Kabul, as saying that songs other than those from the Taliban could make the carrier of the phone seem like a "sympathizer:"

Afghans who travel beyond the capital say insurgents have forced Afghans to eat SIM cards, broken phones on owners' heads and interrogated travelers for hours about their contacts with foreigners.

"If you are going 30 or 60 miles outside of Kabul, you will surely find Taliban on the road," said a member of President Hamid Karzai's government. "If you have Indian music or Afghan music ringtones, they will tell you that you are not obeying Islamic rules and, in most cases, break our mobiles."

This official said that whenever he leaves Kabul, he routinely carries two SIM cards for his cellphone. One contains the numbers of Afghan leaders, Western officials, military officers and other contacts he needs to do his job. The other is the Taliban-safe SIM card that he pops into his phone outside the capital.

Wired states that "this might be the only measurement you need to judge the Afghanistan War" and that the growth in the market for Taliban ringtones show that the U.S., after 10 years of war, does not control many parts of the countryside. The Journal reports Nasratullah Niazai, a 22-year-old Afghan man who uploads Taliban songs and ringtones to phones, said that in the last year business has been booming.

The Journal reports that the Taliban's spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, said they have about 40 singers whose songs "give a lesson in bravery, manliness and protecting the country from the invaders." Here are the lyrics to some of the songs the Journal includes in its report:

"Teenager"

Your white tender body has been burnt by fire Oh martyr!

Zar, which oppressor has shot you?

I tend to the wounds of your beautiful limbs (and) the dry tender lips and burnt wounds

You are away from your home for the sake of your religion

Oh martyr Zar, Zar, which oppressor has shot you?

"Suicide Bomber"

Young hero, martyrdom seeker (suicide bomber), you went up into flames

You burned like a moth, young hero, martyrdom seeker

You are the Muslims' atomic bomb

Young hero, martyrdom seeker you went up into flames

You astonished the entire world

Young hero, martyrdom seeker, you went up into flames

You burned like a moth, hero, young man, martyrdom seeker

You destroyed yourself for the love of religion

Young hero, martyrdom seeker, you went up into flames

Wired included this example as a Taliban ringtone:

While Taliban songs uploaded on phones may protect travelers from insurgents, the Journal reports that it can get carriers in trouble with regular law enforcement. According to the Journal, Khan was at a police station in Kabul when his phone rang and authorities questioned why he had such a ringtone. When Khan told the officer he was not a Taliban supporter but used the ringtone as protection during travel, the officer called him a coward.

In addition to using ringtones as a means to control and spread their message, earlier this year the New York Times reported that cell phone carriers were appeasing the Taliban by turning off cell signal at night. The Times states that it happens in about half the provinces and "exemplifies the Taliban’s new and more subtle ways of asserting themselves."

One last thing…
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