Afghan Men, but No Women, in Kabul Cinema Scuffle
Monday November 19 9:14 AM ET
KABUL (Reuters) - A near riot broke out in front of Kabul's main cinema on Monday as Afghan men fought their way in to see the first film shown in public since the now defeated Taliban took the city in 1996.
Military police beat back the crowd and broke up scuffles between film-goers desperate to get into the 600-seat Bakhtar Cinema to see the popular Afghan film ``Uruj'' or ``Ascension.''
Two men were arrested as the showing began at 10 a.m. Inside, the audience cheered and clapped as the speckled celluloid film started to roll.
Film and television were banned under the five-year rule of the Taliban, which fled the capital a week ago, but cinema owners said they had kept a secret stock of film reels.
Uruj tells the story of three mujahideen heroes who fought the Soviet invasion of the 1980s. The audience booed and hissed an Afghan communist leader shown swigging vodka and cheered when a mujahideen fighter knocked him to the ground.
Before the film ended the crowd surged through the police lines and broke into the cinema. Some even climbed a metal gate to enter through a first-floor balcony.
Kabul residents have celebrated the departure of the Taliban, who banned television, photography and music under their strict interpretation of Islam. The radical militia also banned the education and employment of women and forced men to grow bushy beards.
But some things have not changed since the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance took control of the capital: women were not allowed into the cinema.
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