Afghans Find Room for Debate on Twitter Spaces

“Ensuring people’s safety and encouraging healthy conversations have been key priorities since the beginning of Spaces’ development,” Oji Udezue, the product lead for Twitter’s creation and conversation team, said in a statement. “Our product, support and safety teams continue to be core to our work.”

But for Afghans who have experienced more than four decades of war, just having the chance to hear varying opinions and points of view is a step in the right direction, said Mohsin Amin, an Afghan policy analyst and researcher who left Afghanistan two years ago. He sometimes hosts his own Space and said he viewed the tool as an “alternative to town-hall meetings.”

Under the group’s first regime, in the 1990s, the internet was nonexistent within Afghanistan, and television and cassette tapes were forbidden. But decades later, the new Taliban government has embraced social media, and has gone so far as to encourage its officials to participate more in online forums like Spaces.

Mawlawi Ziu-ur Rahman Asghar, a member of the Taliban’s cultural affairs committee who hosts most of the Taliban’s Spaces, said his aim was to bring Afghans together through civil discussions, and to solve the problems of the ordinary people by connecting them with Taliban officials.

“We want to bridge the gap between the government and the people, and convey the voice and demand of the people to the emirate officials,” he said in response to a question on a Space he hosted about a recent visit to Norway by the acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi.

Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Taliban’s interior minister and the head of the notorious Haqqani Network, was recently among Mr. Asghar’s guests.

Still, there’s a limit to what Twitter Spaces can offer Afghans in the country, where only a small percentage of the population has access to social media. The Taliban have also clamped down on the freedoms of expression and speech.

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