Taliban religious police issue posters ordering women to cover up

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Kabul (AFP) – Religious Taliban police have placed posters in the capital Kabul ordering Afghan women to cover themselves up, an official said on Friday, the latest in a series of creeping restrictions.

The poster, which includes an image of the burqa covering the face, was slapped on cafes and shops this week by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.

Since returning to power in August, the Taliban have increasingly restricted freedoms, especially those of women and girls.

“According to Sharia, Muslim women must wear the hijab,” the poster read, referring to the practice of covering up.

A spokesperson for the ministry, responsible for enforcing the Taliban’s harsh interpretation of Islamic law, confirmed to AFP on Friday that he was behind the orders.

“If someone does not respect her, it does not mean that she will be punished or beaten, it is just an encouragement for Muslim women to follow Sharia law,” said Sadeq Akif Muhajir.

In Kabul, women already cover their hair with a headscarf, although some wear modest Western clothing.

Outside the capital, the burqa, which became compulsory for women under the first Taliban regime in the 1990s, has remained common.

“What they are trying to do is sow fear among the population,” a university student and women’s rights activist told AFP, who declined to be identified.

“The first time I saw the posters I was really petrified, I thought maybe (the Taliban) would start beating me. They want me to wear a burqa and look like nothing, I would never do that. “

The burqa became compulsory for women under the first Taliban regime in the 1990s Mohd RASFAN AFP

The Taliban, who are desperate for international recognition to allow the reopening of funding flows to the war-torn country, have so far refrained from issuing national policies.

Instead, they published guidelines for men and women which vary from province to province.

“It’s not good. 100% of it will create fear,” said Shahagha Noori, the supervisor of a restaurant in Kabul where the poster was put up by the Taliban.

“I think if the Taliban gets international recognition, then they will start to enforce it.”

Although the Taliban have promised a lean version of the harsh rule that characterized their first term in power from 1996 to 2001, women are largely excluded from public jobs, and girls’ high schools have remained closed in several provinces.

They were also prohibited from traveling alone on long journeys.

No nation has yet officially recognized the Taliban government, and diplomats face the delicate task of channeling aid into the ailing Afghan economy without backing hard-core Islamists.


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