PICTURED: Taliban official spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid gives a press conference in Kabul. PC: Reuters. Fair Use.
Story at a glance…
Girls in Herat go back to school and university.
In separate statements Taliban say women and girls allowed work, work in government, go to university “according to Islamic law.”
It is the first press conference from the group as they look to put on a great face for the international community.
HERAT, Afghanistan. AUGUST 18th, 2021. Schoolgirls scurried from class to class in the educational system in the western city of Herat, three days after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan seized control in Kabul. Ex-soldiers, politicians, humans rights advocates, and news agencies have spat out an unrelenting tide of lamentations and warnings on the fate of women’s rights in the country now that Sharia Law has returned.
At the moment though, while women are mostly absent from the streets, some are being told by the Taliban—sometimes door by door, to go back to work or school.
Suhail Shaheen, a spokesperson for the Taliban’s Doha office, said under the new Emirate women “can get education from primary to higher education – that means university”.
It was in Herat where the semi-famous Afghan Girls Robotics Team formed, which took silver, gold, and 5th place, in several international robotics competitions.
An AFP reporter filmed the exams, and spoke to a young student named Roqia. “We want to progress like other countries, and we hope the Taliban will maintain security,” she said. “We don’t want war, we want peace in our country”.
Al-Jazeera reported that “huge numbers” of girls were attending schools and universities, while “freely” walking the streets.
Law and Order
Many of the aforementioned personalities have conjured images of the Taliban’s control of the country during the late 90s, when stoning and public lashing was seen, and things generally resembled a Medieval environment, in order to stir readers and governments into some kind of action.
In those days, true Sharia Law, and the much more ancient Pashtunwali code of family honor, as pointed out by the French Center for Research on Intelligence, often overlapped, such that by applying the latter, the largely Pashtun-denominated Taliban believed they were adhering to the former.
The modern Taliban have agreed this will not be the case, and as radio host Scott Horton, author of Fool’s Errand, Time to End the War in Afghanistan, pointed out in a recent radio interview, it is in fact under the Pashtunwali code where women are treated no different than livestock.
Taliban Twitter spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, hosted the Emirate’s first official press conference, in which he told reporters that the difference between the Taliban in the 90s and the one of today is that “if the question is based on ideology and beliefs, there is no difference… but if we calculate it based on experience, maturity, and insight, no doubt there are many differences”.
Mujahid, who was never seen in public for years while maintaining the group’s official Twitter account, answered questions about allowing terrorists into the country, women’s rights, embassy security, border concerns, arms smuggling, the formation of the government, and more, all of which amounted to a massive PR putsch as they seek as many legitimizing forces as possible.
On the topic of narcotics, one of the only powerhouse sectors of the economy under the Ghani and Karzai administrations, Mujahid mentioned…
“if you remember, we had brought narcotics content production to zero in 2001, but our country was unfortunately occupied by then and the way was paved for reproduction of narcotics even at the level of the government – everybody was involved,” he said.
Regarding women’s rights every sentence contained some version of “along the teachings of Islam” or “according to Islamic law,” mixed with things like “working shoulder to shoulder with us”.
Only time will tell if “there are many differences,” but in order to unlock funding, both from the U.S Treasury Dep. who froze billions in government assets, and from the IMF or World Bank for nation building, the Emirate cannot allow the number of reports of women’s rights abuses in the country to grow.
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