'We will be safe after this': Afghan women march in support of Taliban
Hundreds of Afghan women fully covered from head to toe marched in Kabul holding the Taliban white-and-black flags on Saturday in a show of support for the hardline Islamist group. They were seen in photographs holding printed banners and were being escorted by Taliban soldiers carrying rifles and machine guns. Saturday’s demonstration came after several protests in Kabul and other cities in Afghanistan earlier in the week called for women’s participation in the government and called for their right to education and jobs. Taliban fighters have tried to scuttle such demonstrations, often led by women, by firing into the air to disperse protesters and effectively banned such shows of defiance.
"Women who left Afghanistan cannot represent us," one of the pro-Taliban banners read. "We are satisfied with attitude and behaviour of Mujahideens (Taliban),” read another.
Daud Haqqani, director of foreign relations at the education ministry, said the protest was organised by the women, who asked and been granted permission to demonstrate. The Taliban curtailed women's rights in Afghanistan during their last regime from 1996 to 2001, but they have claimed that this time they will allow them to attend university as long as classes are segregated by sex and they wear an abaya robe and niqab. Women may work "in accordance with the principles of Islam", the Taliban have decreed without giving out details about what they mean.
Before the march, these women attended a series of speeches critical of women who have protested across Afghanistan in recent days. Held at Shaheed Rabbani Education University, these women were surrounded by large Taliban flags. "We are against those women who are protesting on the streets, claiming they are representative of women. Is it freedom to like the last government? No, it is not freedom. The last government were misusing women. They were recruiting women just by their beauty," the first speaker, who was also covered head to toe, said, according to AFP.
A student named Shabana Omari told the gathered women she agreed with the Taliban's policy that women should cover their heads. "Those not wearing the hijab are harming all of us. The hijab is not an individual thing,” she said, referring to the headscarves worn by many Muslim women. Somaiya, another speaker, said history had changed since the Taliban came back. "After this we will not see 'bihijabi' (people not wearing headscarves). Women will be safe after this. We are supporting our government with all our strength."
(With agency inputs)