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Taliban enforce covering faces in public on women

Riding the wave of growing restrictions on women in Afghanistan, the Taliban, based on a decree by their supreme leader, ruled on Saturday that Afghan women must cover their faces in public.

The decree from the Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada was read out, at a press conference in Kabul, by a spokesman for the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.

Should the decree not be observed, the defiant woman’s father or closest male relative would be visited and eventually imprisoned or fired from government jobs.

The ideal face covering for the Taliban was the tip-to-toe blue burqa — a garment globally recognised as emblematic of the Taliban’s previous hardline regime of 1996-2001.

As is the case, the majority of Afghani women living in cities wear a headscarf for religious reasons and yet they refrain from covering their faces entirely. Meanwhile, in the rural areas, the situation is quite the opposite.

The Taliban has faced fierce criticism, led by Western governments but √joined by some religious scholars and Islamic countries for their growing limits on women’s rights.

The US and other nations have discontinued development aid and enforced strict sanctions on the banking system, since the Taliban took over in August, hurling the country towards economic ruin.


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Despite claiming the Taliban has changed since it held sway over Afghanistan last time, Akhundzada’s regime seems to be revisiting the Islamic social engineering carried out by the Taliban from 1996 to 2001. One of the moves indicating such a reverse vector surprisingly came in March when the group closed girls’ high schools on the morning they were due to open.

Months into their takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban managed to limit women’s travelling freedom, now requiring a male chaperone, the so-called mahram , to accompany them. Western, or even modern Islamic, romanticism seemed too much to swallow for the Taliban too, as they banned men and women from visiting parks at the same time.

From the viewpoint of Islamic jurisprudence, the Taliban interpret the Sharia law in accordance with the Deobandi strand of the Hanafi school and the religious edicts of Mullah Omar. This translates into bans on the consumption of pork and alcohol, the latter of which despite being unrecommended tends to be imbibed in other Muslim countries.

Further, the use of many types of consumer technology such as music, television, filming, and the Internet, as well as most forms of art such as paintings or photography, and participation in sports, including football and chess, popular across Muslim countries, were banned during the 1996-2001 Taliban reign.

TVP World contacted a high officer of an NGO focusing on the security of other NGOs in Afghanistan, who said that football continued to be eagerly played among city-dwelling Afghani men.

Still, judging from the recent decree compelling women to cover their faces, it is likely that the Taliban would bring back some of the other restrictions on social life.

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