Afghan women mobilize to support the Taliban – .

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Afghan women mobilize to support the Taliban – .


KABUL: Afghan women wearing full veils sat in rows in an amphitheater at Kabul University on Saturday, pledging to abide by the Taliban’s hardline policies on gender segregation.
About 300 women – covered from head to toe in accordance with strict new clothing policies on education – waved Taliban flags as speakers cursed the West and expressed support for Islamist policies.
A handful wore blue burqas, which have only a small mesh window to see, but most wore black niqabs covering most of the face except the eyes.
Many also wore black gloves.
Women’s rights in Afghanistan were severely curtailed under the Taliban from 1996 to 2001, but since their return to power last month, they have said they would apply a less extreme regime.
This time around, women will be allowed to attend university as long as classes are separated by gender or at least divided by a curtain, the Taliban education authority said.
They must also wear an abaya and a niqab.
The women, who the organizers said were female students, listened to a series of speeches at Shaheed Rabbani University of Education in the capital, Kabul.
Large Taliban flags flanked the podium, as speakers criticized the women who have demonstrated across Afghanistan in recent days.
They also defended the new government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which banned protests without permission from the Ministry of Justice.
Daud Haqqani, director of foreign relations at the education ministry, said the protest was organized by the women, who had requested and obtained permission to protest.
“We are against these women who demonstrate in the streets, claiming that they are representative of women,” said the first speaker, covered from head to toe.
“Is it the freedom to love the last government? No, it’s not freedom. The last government abused women. They recruited women just by their beauty, ”she said.
Some in the audience were holding babies, who sometimes cried during speeches, while others were girls clearly too young for college.
A student named Shabana Omari told the crowd that she agreed with the Taliban’s policy that women should cover their heads.
“Those who don’t wear the hijab are hurting us all,” she said, referring to the scarves worn by many Muslim women.
“The hijab is not an individual thing. ”
Omari concluded his speech by conducting a choir of “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is the greatest”.
Another speaker, Somaiya, said history has changed since the Taliban returned.
“After that, we won’t see any more ‘bihijabi’ (people not wearing headscarves),” she said.
“Women will be safe after this. We support our government with all our might. ”
After the speeches in the meeting hall, the women marched in organized ranks a short distance down the street outside, holding printed banners and flanked by Taliban soldiers carrying rifles and machine guns.
The public protest contrasted sharply with scenes in Kabul and elsewhere earlier in the week, when Taliban fighters fired in the air to break up a number of protests against their regime, killing two.
“The women who have left Afghanistan cannot represent us,” a pro-Taliban banner said on Saturday.
“We are satisfied with the attitude and behavior of the Mujahedin (Taliban),” read another.
The Taliban say they want to distance themselves from the harsher policies of the past, when half the population was excluded from work and education.
Under new rules, women can work “in accordance with the principles of Islam,” the Taliban decreed, but few details have yet been given on what exactly that might mean.



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