Hundreds of pro-Taliban Afghan women attended a full-veil conference at Kabul University today in support of the new regime’s intransigent policies on gender segregation.
About 300 women – covered from head to toe in accordance with strict new dress policies on education – waved white 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.
Pictured: Afghan students listen to female speakers before their pro-Taliban rally outside Shaheed Rabbani University of Education in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 11, 2021
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.
About 300 women – covered from head to toe under new strict clothing policies for education – waved Taliban flags as speakers (pictured) railed against the West and expressed support for Islamist policies
Taliban fighters stand guard outside a hall during a rally of female students ahead of a pro-Taliban rally at Shaheed Rabbani University of Education in Kabul on September 11, 2021
“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.
Some in the audience were holding babies (pictured), who sometimes cried during speeches, while others were young girls clearly too young for college
A handful wore blue burqas, which only have a small mesh window to see, but most wore black niqabs covering most of the face except for the eyes (pictured)
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.
Pictured: Veiled women hold banners and placards during a march at a pro-Taliban rally outside Shaheed Rabbani University of Education in Kabul on September 11, 2021
“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 “according to the principles of Islam,” the Taliban decreed, but few details have yet been given on what exactly that might mean.
Earlier this week, Taliban fighters beat female demonstrators and opened fire to disperse demonstrators in Kabul – just hours after Islamists banned the gatherings.
Activists announced a moratorium on protests “for now” on Wednesday night after the group was humiliated by viral images of women standing up to them.
Images posted online purported to show Taliban fighters beating up female protesters in the streets – one activist seen hitting a woman with a crutch, hitting her on the arm before chasing her away.
Images posted online purported to show an activist seen hitting a woman with a crutch, hitting her on the arm before chasing her
Taliban fighters were seen beating protesters and opening fire to disperse them in Kabul hours after Islamists banned gatherings amid wave of protests
The video also showed armed Islamists wielding guns chasing women off a busy road. She came as women defied the Taliban’s ban on protests, gathering outside the Pakistani embassy in Kabul until activists opened fire to disperse the crowds.
Images showed Taliban in military fatigues preventing protesters from assembling and shouting for them to disperse. Gunshots and screams are then heard in the shaky footage, which MailOnline could not independently verify, before it ended in a hurry.
Protest organizers called off the protests after the ban was announced on Wednesday night amid a significantly stronger Taliban armed presence – including special forces in military fatigues – on the streets of Kabul.
Islamists have taken a tough stance on the protesters – locking crowds of women in a basement to prevent them from joining the protests and whipping those who have attended rallies this week.
Footage also showed activists threatening protesters with weapons and firing warning shots into the air to forcibly disperse the crowds. While poignant images also emerged of journalists with marks of anger and bruises after their arrest by Taliban fighters.
The protests are proving an early test for the Taliban who have witnessed a show of resistance since taking power on August 15, something unthinkable under the extremist group’s last rule in the 1990s.