Sunday, 2 April, 2023
HomeWorld'Use perfume, prioritise hygiene' — Afghan minister Sirajuddin Haqqani to Taliban members

‘Use perfume, prioritise hygiene’ — Afghan minister Sirajuddin Haqqani to Taliban members

Haqqani's video has been making the rounds on social media amid a bigger concerted effort by the Taliban to increase engagement and support on platforms like Twitter and YouTube.

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New Delhi: A year since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the de facto government’s first deputy leader, the Minister of Interior Affairs and its paramilitary wing chief, Sirajuddin Haqqani, now appears to have delved into issues concerning men’s health and hygiene.

According to freelance journalist and former TOLO News correspondent Abdulhaq Omeri, Haqqani was filmed giving a speech to the Taliban members and its supporters on the usage of perfume and importance of keeping oneself clean.

The video, uploaded on Twitter by Omeri Monday, was subsequently re-shared by US-based journalist Nazrana Yousafzai, drawing reactions from several users on the platform.

Born in 1979, Haqqani has been a prominent member of the Taliban since the late 2000s, and is suspected to have been involved in the abduction of American journalist David S. Rohde as well as a series of terror attacks in Afghanistan.

The fall of Kabul in August 2021 saw him assume the post of the Taliban’s first deputy leader, while he continues to head the de facto government’s paramilitary wing, the Haqqani network.

Efforts to increase engagement on social media platforms

Haqqani’s video has been making the rounds on social media amid a bigger concerted effort by the Taliban to increase engagement and support on platforms like Twitter and YouTube, with the help of content creators and propagandists.

As explained in ThePrint article by Kabir Taneja, fellow at Observer Research Foundation’s Strategic Studies Programme, Taliban leaders like Haqqani have their fingers on the pulse of what are considered acceptable narratives for the international community, as well as the path forward to a gradual normalisation of the regime.

According to a piece by Zafar Iqbal Yousafzai, published by the think-tank Global Network on Extremism and Technology, and which Taneja also cites, social media has been “increasingly used” by the Taliban to propagate its ideology since 2011.

Following the takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban has employed “reconciliary tactics” on Twitter — being banned from other social media platforms — to improve its global image as purported populists, while continuing to carry out its militant authoritarian policies offline.

While the men’s health and hygiene clip wasn’t posted directly to Twitter by the Taliban or its supporters, it may indirectly form part of the Taliban’s Twitter engagement tactics, as hinted by Taneja and Yousafzai.

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