Afghanistan has banned the John Abraham – Arshad Warsi starrer Bollywood film Kabul Express after an outcry from the ethnic Hazara minority.
The ethnic Hazara minority, has been described in the movie as “the most dangerous tribe” in the country for whom “looting is their business.”
The Outlook Afghanistan newspaper reported on Saturday the independent Afghan TV had announced a 72-hour ban on Indian songs or films, a mainstay of Afghan entertainment, in protest.
The Ministry of Information and Culture said the government film directorate had banned the purchase, selling and showing of the movie, which is yet to be released in Afghanistan but is available in pirated form.
The announcement follows angry objections from leaders in the Hazara community, including Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili and the head of the respected Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Seema Samar.
In the mixed Hindi and Urdu dialogue, Hazaras are referred to as the “most dangerous tribe of Afghanistan” for whom “looting is their business.”
“They would have looted and (stripped) you,” one of the characters says according to a transcript of the film. “Then they would have hit you in the head with a nail. Then they would have sold your car in Pakistan.”
The film also accuses Hazaras, who make up about 15 per cent of the population, of rape and says they are harder to escape from than the US aircraft that bombed the Taliban into defeat.
The culture ministry said in a statement announcing the ban that the film “has scenes, dialogues and behaviours which are insulting to a tribe and in fact to all our nation.”
Khalili, Samar and former Hazara commander and current MP Mohammad Mohaqiq condemned the film at a rally of hundreds of people on Friday. The film made Hazaras seem “barbaric”, they said.
An editorial in the Hazara-aligned newspaper described the film as a “poisonous orchestrated conspiracy” and warned the “factional efforts” of the past should not be forgotten.
Samar said the film was “immoral,” and said the government should watch the film. “If anything stands against the national interest of Afghanistan, it should not be permitted. I think the perpetrators should be brought to justice,” she said.