The Taliban are trying to suppress demonstrations of women increasingly demanding their rights in various cities. Permission is now required for demonstrations. New restrictions on women also threaten in sports.
For example, a senior Taliban official may have announced the end of women’s cricket. “I don’t think women will be allowed to play cricket because there is no need for women to play cricket,” Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural committee, told Australian broadcaster SBS. Cricket is a popular sport in Afghanistan and the men’s team is visiting Australia in November.
Al-Wathiq’s stricter rules and statements contradict the image the Taliban has been trying to convey since taking power that they have changed since their first term in office, between 1996 and 2001.
In recent weeks, women and men have been separated in universities. “In cricket, they can face a situation where their face and body are not covered,” Wasiq said. “Islam does not allow women to be seen this way.” The Australian Cricket Association warned on Thursday that the match against the men’s team would be canceled if women’s cricket was banned.
The attempt to counter the demonstrations shows how demonstrations organized primarily by women in Kabul and Herat, among others, have become increasingly revolting for the Taliban. The new government had barely taken power when the Interior Ministry warned protesters on Wednesday not to “risk organizing a demonstration”.
Not only was permission now required, but the banners and slogans of the demonstration to be chanted also had to be approved. Anyone who does not comply with the new rules must take into account “serious legal consequences”.
The department is headed by Sirajuddin Haqqani, a Taliban hardliner, for whom the FBI has placed a $10 million bounty on his head. Haqqani is accused of involvement in terrorism and an assassination attempt and the bombing of American soldiers.
This brave Afghan woman told me:
“I was shattered when I first heard that the Taliban had taken power, but I told myself I shouldn’t give up my fight for my rights. I decided to take to the streets with about 40 or 50 other women and openly challenge the Taliban. No fear, we are united now.” pic.twitter.com/RANs89KmYX
– Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (AlinejadMasih) September 7, 2021
The coming days should show whether the female protesters are interested in Haqqani’s “attempted intimidation”. Since seizing power last month, Taliban fighters initially did not know what to do with the women’s protests, which first began in the western city of Herat and then spread to Kabul. At first, the fighters allowed women to do their work. For example, last week’s demonstration at the presidential palace in Kabul was untouched.
But later, reports of Taliban fighters shooting in the air or beating protesters began to surface. Three people were said to have been killed during a demonstration in Herat. A photo from Tuesday’s demonstration shows a Taliban fighter aiming his US M-16 rifle at a woman.
Women who shouted “We want equal rights, we want women in government” in the streets of Kabul on Wednesday reported being beaten, flogged and insulted by fighters who appeared suddenly. “They said we have to go home because they think this is a place for women,” Sarah, one of the protesters, told the BBC. Afghan journalists have also been beaten and even arrested.
The women’s group carried placards with texts unlikely to be approved under the new rules, such as “the government cannot deny the existence of women” and “a cabinet without women is a failure.” There is not a single woman in the new government, which caused great disappointment to the United States, among others.
On Wednesday, UN Women called on the world not to accept the exclusion of women from running the country. Alison Davdian, who is in charge of assistance to Afghanistan, said the Taliban missed an important opportunity to show that they had really changed with the interim government’s announcement. The protests show that Afghan women will not give up their rights. Davidan said.