Reporters Without Borders voiced shock at the murder today of Shaima Rezayee (photo), a former presenter with the privately-owned broadcast television station Tolo TV. Rezayee, who was shot dead in the head in the Kabul neighbourhood of Char Qala, is the first journalist to be killed in Afghanistan since the end of the war in 2001.
"This horrible murder proves that press freedom still cannot be taken for granted in Afghanistan," the organization said, reiterating its call to President Hamid Karzai for concrete measures in support of free expression.
Reporters Without Borders also called for a thorough and independent investigation into Rezayee's murder so that those responsible can be arrested and brought to trial.
Until March, 24-year-old Rezayee presented a music programme on Tolo TV that was much criticized conservatives as anti-Islamic. On 13 March, the Council of Ulemas urged the government to put a stop to programmes deemed "immoral and anti-Islamic."
Rezayee was personally criticized by conservatives for her liberal behaviour on screen. Bowing to the pressure from the ulemas, Tolo TV fired her on the grounds that her personality did not meet the station's requirements.
Tolo TV has been the target of constant criticism from religious leaders, who have waged several campaigns for it to be banned. President Karzai's cabinet threatened to withdraw the station's licence in November 2004 for broadcasting "Islamically incorrect" programmes.