Dozens of women donning black niqabs have taken to streets of Kabul to voice support for the Taliban and its strict interpretation of Sharia law. The rally followed a wave of heated women’s rights protests in Afghanistan.
Several dozen women, purportedly female students of Shaheed Rabbani Education University in Kabul, marched through the city streets on Saturday, chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest), in support of Taliban rule.
Hundreds of Afghan women have marched through Kabul in support of the Islamic Emirate. The march followed anti Taliban marches last week by “women’s rights” activists. pic.twitter.com/BPvZg7wnXu
— 5Pillars (@5Pillarsuk) September 11, 2021
The majority of the participants in the small and orderly procession were clad in head-to-toe black and veils and carried placards reading: “We don’t want co-education,” “Our rights safe in Islam” and “Women who left Afghanistan cannot represent us,” in reference to those who fled Afghanistan as part of the chaotic US-led evacuation effort after Kabul fell to the Taliban in mid-August.
“We want from the Islamic Emirate to ensure all rights of the women. Access to knowledge, work, and health must be stated in their priority, and they must focus on these issues,” one of the protesters said, as reported by RT’s Ruptly video agency.
Taliban militants, some armed with machine guns and rifles, marched alongside the women to apparently provide security.
The rally followed a meeting in the university that featured about 300 women, AFP reported. Some of them took the floor to denounce the women’s rights protesters, and argued that the US-backed Afghan government of exiled President Ashraf Ghani was “misusing women” and “recruiting women just by their beauty.”
Daud Haqqani, director of foreign relations at the education ministry, insisted that although the rally was authorized by the new Taliban government, it was called for by the female demonstrators themselves.
Reacting to photos from the event, some online pundits expressed disbelief that women might be satisfied with life under the Taliban, while calling full veils “dehumanizing.”
Women in dehumanising burqas are “happy” with the backward & barbaric Taliban & all their “rights are protected” under an Islamist extremist regime. Are you insane or just lying? https://t.co/zAAO07IW5u
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) September 11, 2021
Others contended that while there might be women who genuinely support the militants and their worldview, their beliefs are “never in a million years” representative of Afghan women as a whole.
They’re the female supporters of the Taliban. I believe, everyone should have the right to choose what they wear or whom to support. BUT: Never in a million years are they representative of women in Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/U5umbFTM74
— Kaweh Kerami | کاوه کرامی (@KawaKerami) September 11, 2021
Afghan-born former refugee Roh Yakobi used the images to poke fun at the gathered, saying he was “not sure how many of these people are actually women.”
Haroun Rahimi, a professor of law at the American University of Afghanistan, however, fired back at those mocking the women for their appearance, calling liberals “equally intolerant” when it comes to what Afghan women are supposed to look like and think. “It is all about choice. Women’s choice. These women chose this hijab. We need to honor & respect their choice,” he tweeted.
The sentiment at Saturday’s protest was in striking contrast to that at women’s rights marches organized by opponents of the Taliban policy that prescribes women to follow an Islamic dress code and favors segregation in some public places, including at schools and universities.
At least one woman was reportedly injured after female protesters demanding equal rights for women and men in Afghanistan faced off with the Taliban militants last Saturday. The rally was not authorized by the Taliban, which banned all demonstrations and slogans unless they are specifically approved by the group and warned about “severe legal consequences” if protesters defied the rule.
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