Shaima Rezayee is Dead

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An Afghan female veejay famous for presenting racy music videos from Turkey to her young Kabul audience has been found shot to death, according to a story in the Times of London that was headlined, "The woman killed for pop music."

Shaima Rezayee had been the only woman veejay on the hugely popular music service, Tolo TV, though her show had been cancelled recently under pressure from religious conservatives. Police believe her murder was linked to her TV notoriety, the Times reported.

"Like other young women," wrote reporter Catherine Philp, "Ms Rezayee was denied five years of schooling while the Taleban were in control and like them was forced to wear the burkha whenever she ventured out of the house. When the Taleban were driven from power, she was one of the first to drop the veil. Then in October she burst on to Kabul television screens presenting an hour-long music and chat show airing videos of Western singers such as Madonna, as well as Turkish and Iranian pop stars."

Tolo TV was established by an Afghan expat who had returned from Australia. "Tolo quickly became the most watched station in the city with a reported 81 per cent audience share," notes the story. The service has since gone national.

In the Arab world, women veejays have become ubiquitous. And if music video channels can draw 80 percent of Kabul's audience, then the campaign by Afghan religious conservatives against "unIslamic" TV fare is plainly a lost cause. A look at post-Taliban "vulgarity" in Afghanistan opens this story.

Virginia Postrel passed along this link; her excellent blog is here.

NEXT: Hezbollah and Hariri

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  1. I’m sure this brave woman’s murder was unrelated to Islam, the Religion of Peace?.

  2. And if music video channels can draw 80 percent of Kabul’s audience

    Enjoy it while you can, Muslims. Pretty soon those music video channels will be nothing but reality shows, documentaries on stars (AH1-Afghan Hits One-Behind the Music), and game shows.

  3. hahaha,
    true, true Thoreau.

  4. Are we still on the cleavage = liberty’s future theme?

    Not entirely wrong, but it’s a mostly meaningless barometer for broader things in the region.

  5. One person was killed and 49 were wounded when blasts rocked two cinemas in New Delhi screening a controversial film condemned by Sikhs, police said, while local media said there had been seven fatalities. [via Yahoo]

    When will God hold a press conference to renounce homicide committed in the name of religion?

  6. When will God hold a press conference to renounce homicide committed in the name of religion?

    I already did. It’s not My fault that you people don’t all read the Onion. But since I know that not all of My children are premium subscribers, I’ve excerpted the key parts of the article:

    NEW YORK-Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other Monday.

    “Look, I don’t know, maybe I haven’t made myself completely clear, so for the record, here it is again,” said the Lord, His divine face betraying visible emotion during a press conference near the site of the fallen Twin Towers. “Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don’t. And to be honest, I’m really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to, in really simple terms that anybody ought to be able to understand.”

    Worshipped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike, God said His name has been invoked countless times over the centuries as a reason to kill in what He called “an unending cycle of violence.”

    .
    .
    .

    “I tried to put it in the simplest possible terms for you people, so you’d get it straight, because I thought it was pretty important,” said God, called Yahweh and Allah respectively in the Judaic and Muslim traditions. “I guess I figured I’d left no real room for confusion after putting it in a four-word sentence with one-syllable words, on the tablets I gave to Moses. How much more clear can I get?”

  7. I thought to myself that my personal sacrifice in going to Iraq would be worth it if more young men like this can express themselves freely in monotonous tonic chords, without some goddamned “Religious Leader” (insert Darth Vader Imperial Theme Music here) wagging their fingers, clicking their tongues and telling them that they are not on God’s good side for loving the Devil’s Music (GASP!!!!!)

    that’s your ridiculous problem, not iraq’s nor islam’s nor what’s left of sensible america’s. and, as you’ve either forgotten or never knew, the saddam we destroyed repressed the religious expression of his peoples, thereby holding his nation together. we will resort to the same tactic before it’s over, if we don’t come to our sense and tuck tail.

    don’t see it as imperialism, but the freest form of personal expression.

    undoubtedly. why we should kill tens of thousands and attempt to destroy a 1300-year-old faith for them to choose to watch ass-shakin’ on the telly is utterly beyond me, however. OOOOH, right — i’ll be safer. i forgot. 🙂

    and that’s not even to address the more difficult question — which is, even if we want to, can we? or are we just another bloody-handed empire with wrongheaded pious intentions, murdering for what we think is right but is really just narrowminded utopian futility bolstered by the new whig history?

    let’s not sit here and pretend that because the afghani mark goodman got shot, religion is of no value and we must start bombing for Freedom(TM). that’s for the idiots over at the corner to defecate into the internet. is it any different at all from crackpot “christians” who murder ob-gyns in america? why aren’t we addressing the moral bankruptcy of american protestantism? after all, america has become totalitarian in a way that most despots can only dream of for lack of funding. why aren’t we staging an invasion of middle america?

    because all that “reason” isn’t. it’s propaganda, misleading hyperbole that only some westerners unfamiliar with complexity seem to listen to in any great degree — and they because it’s what they want to believe. it’s mentally lazy, yields a path to wildeyed conviction, and it offers the course of action that some powerful american postmoderns falsely find vitally affirming and butressing for their decaying civilization: total war.

    (as an aside: it’s despicable, frankly, that a magazine ostensibly called “reason” has become home to such nonsensical ideological drivel — for shame! where is your rigor? where is your empiricism?? have the decency to change the name of the rag to “nietzschean ideologue” before you run bits about how the only sensible muslims are into christina aguilera.)

  8. I don’t believe this is actually gaius.

  9. So Gaius, is your ideal world one where trashy entertainers simply don’t exist, or one where they exist but nobody has the slightest interest in them?

  10. So Gaius, is your ideal world one where trashy entertainers simply don’t exist, or one where they exist but nobody has the slightest interest in them?

    in the world i lived in, ms jennifer, we fed them to the lions every saturday and sold tickets to that.

    I don’t believe this is actually gaius.

    lol — why not, mr SR?

  11. Either this is a gaius marius impersonator, or gaius is in a particularly bad mood today.

  12. i am feeling a bit rakish. 🙂 but, more to the point, it’s bizarre to listen to people emptily denounce “domestic wine and cheese white liberal haters of American cultural influence” as though self-contempt is the only means of abhorring an american war for increased mtv market share — or as though one has come up with a better target for the millenarian american arsenal. is there anything more ridiculous?

    i don’t find anything admirable in this woman’s death, and i hope the criminals are punished severely. but implying that this is a catastrophe which in some small way justifies an american foreign policy of interventionism is just asinine — truly worthy of nro.

  13. i don’t find anything admirable in this woman’s death, and i hope the criminals are punished severely. but implying that this is a catastrophe which in some small way justifies an american foreign policy of interventionism is just asinine — truly worthy of nro.

    Fair enough. I have no problem with other people gaining the right to shake that ass. But as the Beastie Boys said, you have to fight for your right to party. Nobody else can do it for you.

    Living in Kabul is such a drag,
    And the mullahs just threw away your best porno mag,
    You gotta fight (dun-dun!) for your right to paaartyyyyy!
    Don’t step out of this hut if that’s the clothes you’re gonna wear,
    I’ll send you to court if you dare cut that hair,
    The mullah stood in and said “what’s that noise?”
    Aw, Omar, you’re just jealous it’s the Beastie Boys,
    You gotta fight (dun-dun!) for your right to paaartyyyy!

  14. (To be serious, I supported the invasion of Afghanistan, since that was the home base of the people who, you know, actually attacked us. And since the government of Aghanistan supported them. But my rationale for supporting it was purely defensive, and Afghans gaining the right to shake their asses was a very welcome fringe benefit. I wouldn’t support a war for the sole purpose of shaking that ass.)

  15. Not even if the ass being shaken belonged to Beyonce’?

  16. “i don’t find anything admirable in this woman’s death, and i hope the criminals are punished severely. but implying that this is a catastrophe which in some small way justifies an american foreign policy of interventionism is just asinine — truly worthy of nro.”

    True belief in Reverse Domino Theory requires faith in a means of transmission.

    I’ve asked a number of true believers about how spontaneous democratic combustion spreads from host to host, and one of the better answers I get involves popular culture. Indeed, if you believed that popular culture was as insidious as some Reverse Domino Theorists would have us believe, you might site this tragedy as justification for Reverse Domino Theory.

    …”See, the enemy thinks music videos are just as insidious as I do!”, you might say.

    P.S. I’m a skeptic, not a true believer.

  17. Not even if the ass being shaken belonged to Beyonce’?

    Beyonce has enough money that she can afford to hire private security firms to protect her right to shake her ass. As a good libertarian I applaud her use of free market security services 😉

  18. Must we always return to the notion that whatever good results are out there are completely irrelevant because they don’t justify a war in and of themselves?

    This was very clearly not a war to increase MTV market share. Yes, it is fair to point out that a viable popular culture may be arising. No, that does not mean that anyone believes that a war was justified for those reasons alone. However opponents of military action may prefer to argue, there is no onus on supporters of the conflict to demonstrate that any outcome was the ONE REAL REASON for military action. A set of reasons of various weights can together create a case for justification and prudence.

  19. “…former job as a ?veejay? ? video journalist ? on Hop…”

    Ahh yes, video journalist. I have forgot about Carson Daly’s hard hitting journalism.

    And lest we not forgot about Jesse Camp.

  20. “I remember right before I deployed to Fallujah….Once again, the Islamic world should hold its pitiful head in shame for degenerating from a culture…”

    Sentences like that coming from someone who purports to be over there liberating them,….well, ’nuff said. Q.E.D. on why things are going unwell. If you have contempt for “the Islamic world”, don’t purport to liberate it…. Even if you are right and sincere, it won’t play.

  21. Has anyone found a picture of this woman? This happend a few days ago. With her 80% market share and her murder, it seems strange none of the articles about her have a picture. Google images finds zero results.

  22. gaius,

    Sensible people tolerate others watching bootilicious music videos on the telly, a forbidden technology under the Taleban whose interpretation of a 1300 year old faith left Afghanistan in a dark age.

  23. A small image of Ms. Rezayee is here.

  24. The only thing more unsettling about someone being gunned down just for appearing on television is reading people try to justify it through ad hominem attacks.

  25. Jason-

    It’s not that I want ONE reason and no more. It’s just that I’m skeptical of any government plan that involves second and third order effects. Given government’s lousy track record at accomplishing it’s objectives, I think the ambitions should be limited to first order effects.

    If somebody wants to argue that Hussein posed a military threat and that the US military could achieve the military objective of removing that military threat, well, that’s a manageable proposition. We can debate the magnitude of the threat and the necessity of the action, but the argument involves a military solution to a military problem. And the US just happens to have the best military on the face of the earth, so I am confident that the military objective can be achieved. The only real question then is the magnitude of the threat posed by Iraq, or at least the potential threat and whether the risk of that potential merits a war despite the unknowns.

    But when somebody starts talking about using the military to achieve a social objective in one place, and then hope that the social objective (if achieved) causes a ripple effect that causes changes in other places, well, is it OK if I’m skeptical? Building a stable, liberal democracy takes more than an election held under the supervision of foreign soldiers. That may be a necessary condition, but it’s usually not sufficient. And success can’t be measured until the second election, or whenever the winners of the first election are defeated at the ballot box.

    And then there’s the ripple effect. We have to hope that it happens despite uncertain mechanisms.

    So, I know I’ve said all this before, but here’s an angle that I haven’t really articulated before:

    Somebody comes up to me and says that he wants to use a government agency to achieve a difficult goal that the agency wasn’t really designed to accomplish. And that success or failure could take up to a decade to measure. And that the ultimate success or failure will hinge on a ripple effect and broader social changes via mechanisms that are difficult to explain.

    Am I really so out of line for being skeptical? If this were domestic policy I know that everybody on this forum except joe would share my skepticism.

    So, basically, my simple request is that military actions be justified by clear military objectives that have clear metrics and time frames for success or failure, rather than less clear social objectives that can only be properly measured after a decade.

    Remember, this is the government that we’re talking about.

  26. The more out of control things get for the extremists, the more violent their actions will be. If I were involved in any way with popular culture (art, music, dance, etc) in that part of the planet, I’d be very nervous…

  27. Ms. Rezayee may have been murdered in order to protect the honor of her family.

  28. Perhaps Gaius would say the world is a better pla=ce without Ms. Rezayee, but I disagree. I think the world would be better off without those who blame her for all or any of society’s ills.

  29. In the Arab world

    Chalres, since when Afghanistan is part of the Arab world?

  30. I don’t think he’s claiming that it is, a. I think he’s drawing a parallel between Afghanistan, where the one female VJ caused outrage and was murdered, and the Arab world, in where Marth al-Quinns are commonplace.

  31. Perhaps Gaius would say the world is a better pla=ce without Ms. Rezayee, but I disagree. I think the world would be better off without those who blame her for all or any of society’s ills.

    no, ms jennifer, i’d say that the world will always be home to both parties, each pushing for conflict in their own way. wisdom would be accepting that, rather than going in search of monsters to destroy.

  32. the world will always be home to both parties, each pushing for conflict in their own way

    Ms. Rezayee was pushing for conflict by speaking to an unrelated man who was not her husband? She was looking for a fight when she ditched the burkha? She was begging for a bullet to the head when she hosted a music television program? Sign me up for her side of the conflict.

  33. She was begging for a bullet to the head when she hosted a music television program?

    absolutely, mr twba. do you really think she had no conception that she was taunting the old order in afghanistan? do you really think theo van gogh wasn’t delibertately seeking confrontation with islam? of course they were — it’s why they did what they did! it was their emancipation, their expression — their art, as it were — to tempt and confront the order and try to destroy it. it’s the postmodern ethic!

    this all relates directly to the comment line over here. it’s no wonder these people have become iconic to many — to die for self-expression is the highest manifestation of individualism, isn’t it? never mind that it’s anticivilizational radicalism.

  34. Gaius, it almost sounds like you’re saying her death was her own fault.

  35. Gaius, it almost sounds like you’re saying her death was her own fault.

    fault? no. but is there a modern artist who doesn’t tempt destruction? i think it’s part and parcel with the territory that the artist seeks out. if it were safe and known, it would be useless, wouldn’t it?

    you can imagine, then following that line, why a society of artists would be undesirable in some sense.

  36. Anticivilizational radicalism is a serious term for someone who just seemed to want to be free to speak in public and listen to popular music. I hope a million women step forward to continue her struggle for liberty, the old order be damned. I’m all for the decline and fall of theocratic oligarchies and autocracies.

  37. the old order be damned.

    you said it, mr twba. anticivilizational radicalism, in five words.

  38. all you need do now is apply that vitalist, emancipatory impulse at home. many already have.

  39. Gaius, I will certainly apply that impulse at home if the need arises.

  40. Marsalis? Hahaha, talk about cheesy pop(ish) jazz! Any of those guys make Madonna look like the Velvet Underground.

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