Is the Taliban destroying all mobile phones? Watch this decontextualized video

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Hundreds of phones trampled by the Taliban in Afghanistan: this claims a video shared on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram since mid-January claims to show. Internet users also claim that mobile phones are banned in Afghanistan, under severe penalties, and that the authorities have confiscated all phones. But the video actually shows Pakistani authorities destroying smuggled phones.

The video shows several men, some in black uniforms, smashing hundreds of cell phones scattered on the ground under their feet. In the background, hundreds of bottles are also scattered on the ground. In the publications that forward these images, Internet users say Afghans who refuse to hand over their mobile phones are ‘sentenced to death’“.


The video, which was posted on YouTube on January 15 in English, has garnered more than 27,000 views. On Instagram, she also reached 27,000 views. On Facebook, she sometimes has more than 13,000 views, sometimes 8,000 views.

The index also circulated in French on Facebook and Twitter as here.

Mobile phones destroyed … by Pakistani customs authorities

When we watch the video, at 0’16 we notice the Pakistani flag on the officers’ uniform with its white crescent moon and five-pointed star.

By typing the English keywords “Pakistan”, “destruction” and “phones” on YouTube, we find a longer video posted on December 29 by Rizwan Ali, a web user sharing information about the city of Karachi. The video shows very similar footage of men in uniform destroying cell phones scattered on the ground. We also recognize at. 0’56 the blue container present in the viral video at. 0’03.

The caption indicates that it is “a ceremony” for the destruction of “bottles”, “seized by Pakistani customs officers” in Karachi.

By entering the same keywords in Urdu, one of the two official languages ​​of Pakistan, we will find similar videos, all shared by internet users from December 29, 2021.

A report posted on the YouTube channel to Jazarat News, Pakistan’s leading Urdu-language news site, reflecting the views of an Islamist political party, shows footage of the destruction of phones and other items seized by customs.

The Pakistani English-language newspaper The News reports that the destruction ceremony took place on December 29, 2021 in Karachi, Pakistan. The damaged goods were smuggled: alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and other products.

We also recognize the emblem of Pakistani customs, a bird with outstretched wings, on the uniform of one of the men at 0’15.

According to the Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune, smuggled goods worth 2.5 billion rupees (29 million euros) were destroyed during this event.

Mobile phones allowed in Afghanistan

Local sources in Afghanistan have confirmed to the editorial staff of France 24 Observers that it is authorized to use mobile phones in the country.

Taliban leaders themselves use mobile phones, as shown in this photo of a meeting between Taliban leaders, where journalists are seen taking pictures. The picture was published on January 26 on one of the Taliban’s official Telegram news channels.

However, local media reported in articles from before the regime change on August 20, 2021, that the Taliban had ordered in some provinces not to watch television or listen to music.

In August 2020, the newspaper Gandhara reported that the Taliban had asked the people of Ghazni province in central Afghanistan not to carry mobile phones and not listen to music.

Hamshahri Online, another local business, claimed in early August 2021 (before the Taliban took power) that the Taliban destroyed television antennas in the northern provinces of Samangan and northeastern Nuristan, and ordered people not to watch television or listen to music.

Since the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in August 2021, many images have been published that were falsified or taken out of context. Our editorial team has identified pro-Taliban scams, such as these images claiming that a former official fled with stolen money, but also decontextualized publications claiming to illustrate atrocities allegedly committed by the Taliban, such as this fake video that allegedly shows persecution against Christians.

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