‘Inclusive’ Taliban: Women Must Cover Faces, Should Leave Home as Little as Possible

A woman wearing a burka walks through a bird market as she holds her child, in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 8, 2022.
AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

The Taliban terrorist group’s “Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” issued an edict this weekend declaring that women and girls should leave their homes as little as possible and that women should wear “hijab,” which it defined as including face coverings, at all times.

The decree, issued directly from Supreme Leader Mullah Haibutullah Akhundzada, also declared that the burqa — an all-body covering that covers even a woman’s eyes — was the ideal garment for women, though it stopped short of mandating that women cover their eyes. During the Taliban’s first term in power in the 1990s, the Sunni jihadists forced all women to wear burqa in public.

The decree prompted international outrage from groups such as the United Nations, which had expressed hope when the Taliban returned to power in August that it would not reinstate the repressive rules it once had. Taliban spokesmen had enthusiastically promoted this optimistic view by repeatedly promising it would create an “inclusive” government that adhered to international human rights standards.

The Taliban returned to power in August 2021 after President Joe Biden announced he would violate a deal with the terrorist group that predecessor Donald Trump had agreed to, which would have seen American troops leave the country in May 2021. Biden extended the U.S. troop presence in the country, which began with the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, into August, prompting a national campaign by the jihadists against the U.S.-backed government. Former President Ashraf Ghani promptly boarded a helicopter and fled the country on August 15, as Taliban leaders reached the city limits of the capital, Kabul.

“If a woman doesn’t wear a hijab, first, her house will be located and her guardian will be advised and warned. Next, if the hijab is not considered, her guardian will be summoned,” a spokesman for the “Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” announced, according to Afghanistan’s Tolo News. “If repeated, her guardian (father, brother or husband) will be imprisoned for three days. If repeated again, her guardian will be sent to court for further punishment, the plan reads.”

Under the Taliban, women are not full citizens and require a male “guardian” to control their lives and movements generally.

Tolo explained that Taliban jihadists clarified in the statement that “burka is the best type of hijab/covering ‘as it is part of Afghan culture and it has been used for ages,'” though it repeatedly used hijab discussing the mandatory garment. A hijab only covers a woman’s hair.

Another way of abiding by the decree, the Taliban explained, is for women to never leave their homes.

The official name of the Taliban statement is “The Descriptive and Accomplishable Plan on Legitimate Hijab.”

Taliban jihadists have responded to the international outcry against the new rules by reminding the world that the Taliban is a jihadist organization that engaged in war for decades to seize power and implement its fundamentalist interpretation of sharia, or the Islamic law.

Taliban “political office” spokesman Mohammad Naeem described hijab as “both a symbol and a significant value in Afghan society” in a statement shared to Twitter on Sunday.

Taliban jihadists began pressuring women to adopt the burqa in January, flooding Kabul’s streets with flyers that said in text that women should wear hijab, but featured photos of the full-body covering.

“Officials of the ministry said that the placards are only to recommend hijab and encourage women to observe hijab and that no one will be allowed to force women to wear hijab,” Afghan outlet Khaama Press reported at the time.

Less than a month into the Taliban’s rule, local businessmen throughout Afghanistan reported a massive spike in burqa sales as women prepared for what appeared to be an inevitability.

While Afghans expected the return of Taliban repression, particularly against women, much of the West appeared entranced by statements from Taliban terrorists promising an “inclusive” Afghanistan after their takeover.

“Our countrymen and women who have been waiting, I would like to assure that after consultations that are going to be completed very soon, we will be witnessing the formation of a strong Islamic and inclusive government, Inshallah,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told foreign reporters in August. “We will do our most to make sure that everybody is included in the country, even those people against us in the past, so we are going to wait until those announcements are made.”

Mujahid had promised that women would continue to be able to work outside of the home.

Multiple United Nations agencies began working with the Taliban based on that promise, most prominently the World Food Program (WFP) and the children’s agency UNICEF. UNICEF chief of field operations Ben Messaoud said in August the organization had “not had a single issue with the Taliban” and was “quite optimistic” the jihadists would let girls return to schools.

The Taliban banned girls from going to school beyond grade six in March.

“This decision contradicts numerous assurances regarding respect for and protection of all Afghans’ human rights, including those of women and girls, that had been provided to the international community by Taliban representatives during discussions and negotiations over the past decade,” a shocked U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said of the hijab mandate Sunday. “These assurances were repeated following the Taliban takeover in August 2021, that women would be afforded their rights, whether in work, education, or society at large.”

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