The Taliban are beginning to realize their vision of the place of women in Afghanistan. Under the leadership of several troubled people, three hundred “devoted sisters” have expressed their support for the Islamic Emirate and their rejection of democracy this Saturday. Covered from head to toe and in stark black, they have praised the hiyab (the imperative to hide your body) and reviled coeducation and other Western influences. But the show prepared for the foreign press has also revealed that the fundamentalists lack a women’s section: they have used female students and teachers from various madrasas to fill the assembly hall.
As soon as they arrived at the Faculty of Education at Kabul University, journalists have been called “sisters”, the modest term with which Islamists address women when they have no choice but to deal with them. At the entrance, the armed guards searching male colleagues did not quite know what to do with the women. They haven’t even looked at the bags. Then on the inside they have faced their own contradictions.
The head of the show, a Taliban with fluent English who identified himself as Mohammad Wakkas, insisted that only women could access the amphitheater where the declaration of support for the Islamic system was to be made. That left out most of the reporters, cameramen and translators. After realizing that this way their message was not going to get very far, they have accepted that the men stand in a corner, although they have quickly scattered.
After the mandatory chanting of some verses from the Koran, the first black shadow takes the stage and with an angry voice attacks the West. “By force or through the media, they want us to dress like them and they are against it. hiyab”, affirms before defending the veil as something intrinsic to Islam and Afghan culture. At the moment, the Taliban have not enacted regulations on how women should dress, although they have made it clear that they must respect the hiyab.
Only three of the attendees covered themselves with the burka, the usual executioner among Pashtun ethnic women, which is fitted like a hat on the head and covers the whole body with a small mesh at eye level. It is the garment that has been associated with the annulment of women by the Taliban since their previous dictatorship (1996-2001). But those who attend this act of support for the Islamic Emirate dress like the Salafi fundamentalists, in black and without showing their faces, a style that in Afghanistan is identified with the fundamentalism of the Arab monarchies of the Gulf, or with Al Qaeda.
Dewa Ahmadzai, a 20-year-old who speaks English, explains in an aside that they have come from “various academic centers in Kabul to support the Islamic system.” In fact, the participants are teachers from different madrasas, or Koranic schools. Significantly, only one speaks in Pashto, the language of the Taliban, which suggests that they do not have women prepared for these propaganda tasks.
All the speakers launch diatribes against coeducation, another of the Islamists’ obsessions. “It is not good for our society. It poses problems for our young people who, instead of concentrating on their studies, lose their energy on other matters ”, they repeat in Persian and Arabic. “Western culture has no place in Afghanistan and coeducation is the first step towards it,” warns the third woman who takes the microphone and identifies herself as the director of a madrasa.
They also claim to speak for all Afghans. “The women protesting against the Islamic Emirate do not represent Afghanistan; they are a minority. We are the majority. Afghans do not like the democracy of Western culture, ”says another.
At this stage of the event, the young Afghan journalist, LH, blurts out: “There is no future for women in this country.” She is one of the few television reporters who have continued to take to the streets after the arrival of the Taliban. He wears jeans, a yellow floral camisole, and a headscarf.
Before going out on an organized march for the benefit of television cameras, another speaker summarized the message in English. “We are here to support the Islamic government and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. (…) It is not logical that the West does not recognize the Islamic Emirate when the whole world supports it ”, he said after a confusing accusation of“ colonial ideological warfare ”. “We are glad that the Emirate has not allowed any women in high government positions and that it implements Islamic law. Long live Afghanistan! ”, He concluded.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.