On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that Russian state media has sought to portray the Taliban as more progressive than when it ruled the country prior to the 2001 U.S. invasion — but one of their talking points went horribly wrong.
According to Daily Beast reporter Julia Davis, Russian news broadcasts tried to show the lighter side of the Taliban, the group of hardline Islamists who have now taken over Afghanistan after 20 years out of power.
"The program showcased a clip of what appeared to be jolly Taliban members at the amusement park — riding around in bumper cars, going for a spin on a carousel and bouncing on a trampoline. Natanzon claimed that — compared to the group's customary rules — the new and improved Taliban would allow women uncommon rights and entitlements, such as an ability to work and study," writes Davis.
However, the joyful romp was apparently short lived, as a different state-sponsored news outlet reported one day later that the Taliban proceeded to burn the amusement park to the ground.
"The Taliban probably objected to the horses on the merry-go-round," the outlet said while speculating on the reasons for the Taliban's amusement park arson. "For them, these are idols that are prohibited in Islam.'"
As they solidify control over the country, Taliban officials have sought to claim their administration will be more liberal than before, leaving open the possibility women can work outside the home in certain jobs — though they stress everything must still be "according to Islamic law."
Meanwhile, reports indicate the Taliban opened fire on protesters in Jalalabad on Wednesday, killing three, in a clear sign of hostility to free expression.