At Pro-Taliban Protest, a Symbol of America’s Lost Influence: Faces Obscured by Veils


Tons of of girls, many sporting full-length robes, their faces obscured by black veils, crammed the auditorium of a Kabul college on Saturday holding indicators — a lot of them in English — in help of the Taliban and its strict interpretation of Islam, together with separate schooling for women and men.

The Taliban mentioned the demonstration at Shaheed Rabbani Schooling College, which adopted anti-Taliban protests final week by Afghan girls demanding equal rights, was organized by feminine college lecturers and college students.

Reporters on the road close to Saturday’s march have been avoided the protesters by Taliban fighters armed with computerized rifles and weren’t allowed to talk with any of the ladies. Later makes an attempt to succeed in the members by social media or the college went unanswered.

The demonstration, held on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 assaults, served as a stark reminder of how regardless of twenty years and greater than $780 million spent selling girls’s rights, after the departure of American forces final month, the ladies of Afghanistan may very well be thrown again many years, if not centuries.

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, it barred girls and women from holding most jobs and going to highschool, and virtually made them prisoners in their very own houses. In public, girls have been compelled to put on the burqa, a tentlike garment that covers them from head to toe, with a crocheted mesh grill over the eyes. Its use to erase the looks of girls from public life was seen within the West as a logo of Taliban oppression.

The demonstration ofwomen sporting head-to-toe clothes and face coverings on the 9/11 anniversary was a pointy rebuke to america and its allies, which lengthy cited girls’s rights as a motive for persevering with the battle in Afghanistan lengthy after the Taliban was toppled, Al Qaeda was defanged and Osama bin Laden was assassinated.

Most of the girls seemed to be sporting a type of gown acquainted to conservative Muslims in Southern Afghanistan, together with a veil, whereas others wore the extra conventional blue burqa.

Since america and its allies departed Kabul on Aug. 30, leaving Afghanistan below the management of the Taliban, the nation’s girls have been on the forefront of protests demanding that their rights proceed to be revered.

Taliban leaders have responded to these protests with violence, beating members, together with girls, and insisting that anybody taking to the streets for a public demonstration should first be granted approval from their caretaker authorities.

The Ministry of Schooling of the performing Taliban authorities mentioned that the ladies at Saturday’s pro-Islamist demonstration had requested for and obtained their permission to carry the occasion.

“Not like different demonstrations in Kabul, that is the second all-women protest which was nonviolent and the journalists have been allowed to cowl the protest freely,” the ministry mentioned in an announcement.

“The ladies additionally welcomed the scheme of separate lessons for girls and boys in all universities and institutes and pledged that they might be working for strengthening the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan,” the ministry mentioned.

However the presence of Taliban fighters, the effectivity with which photos of the occasion and official statements have been disseminated and its timing — on Sept. 11 — recommend that the demonstration was not simply permitted by the Taliban however probably orchestrated by it.

Standing at a podium adorned with giant white flags, among the girls participating in Saturday’s demonstration criticized the latest anti-Taliban protests, insisting that girls ought to go together with the Taliban’s strict coverage that girls put on a full-body overlaying.

One lady mentioned anti-Taliban protesters joined final week’s marches simply to turn out to be well-known within the West, based on a recording obtained by The New York Instances.

She acknowledged that these girls held necessary roles in society, together with medical doctors and lecturers, however mentioned they don’t characterize the entire girls of Afghanistan.

After the ladies filed out of the auditorium, they held a brief march, chanting in help of the Taliban and brandishing indicators, together with a number of in English that learn, “Girls who left Afghanistan can not characterize us,” and “Our rights are protected in Islam.”

Taliban fighters cleared site visitors in order that rented buses may transport the ladies from the college grounds.

Even earlier than the Taliban returned to energy, Afghanistan positioned close to the underside of each checklist when it got here to protections for ladies, and on the prime when it comes to the necessity for shelters, counseling and courts that would assist hold girls protected.

Nonetheless, after 20 years of Western help, women and girls made up about 40 p.c of all college students within the nation. Girls joined the army and the police, and held political workplace. Some grew to become internationally acknowledged singers, competed on the Olympics and on robotics groups, climbed mountains and extra — all issues that have been practically unimaginable on the flip of the century.

However a lot of these girls, seeing no future for themselves, have fled the nation. A girls’s soccer group from Herat made its strategy to Italy, 5 members of the Afghan women’ robotics group landed in Mexico, and Zarifa Ghafari, one in every of Afghanistan’s first feminine mayors, arrived in Germany, the place she just lately met with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Ms. Ghafari expressed outrage on the photos of the ladies on the college in Kabul on Saturday. “This isn’t our tradition!” she wrote on Twitter. “Afghan girls aren’t a part of extremism, don’t make them savage, don’t impose ISIS tradition on us!”

When the Taliban introduced their caretaker authorities on Tuesday, leaders within the West famous that it did not stay as much as guarantees that the group can be extra inclusive of Afghanistan’s various ethnic teams and spiritual minorities. It was additionally made up completely of males, breaking with one other pledge by Taliban leaders.

Hours earlier than the performing authorities was introduced, lots of of Afghans, girls amongst them, took to the streets to peacefully demand that their rights be revered below their new leaders. Taliban fighters used rifle butts and sticks to violently break up the protest, sending members fleeing.

On Wednesday, two Afghan journalists have been detained and violently assaulted for overlaying a protest in Kabul. Pictures confirmed the backsides of each reporters coated with bruises and gashes from being whipped repeatedly with cables, sparking a world outcry.

Reporting was contributed by Sami Sahak and Wali Arian





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