Kabul: Women wearing niqab, burqa stage protest supporting Taliban
About 300 Afghan women wearing full-face veils staged a pro-Taliban protest at a university lecture theatre in Kabul Saturday. The women—who wore dresses covering head-to-toe as per the Taliban's new policy—sat in rows waving the Taliban's flag, pledging commitment to the group's gender segregation policies. This comes days after many Afghan women protested on the streets of Kabul, opposing the Taliban's gender-biased rules.
Pro-Taliban protest permitted; other demonstrations restricted
Notably, the Taliban regime has restricted all demonstrations in the country unless permission is granted by the justice ministry. However, this pro-Taliban protest, which mainly targeted the West and defended the new Taliban government's hardline policies, was granted permission to demonstrate. The organizers claimed all participating women were students. However, some of the participants reportedly held babies while others appeared too young for university.
Protesters criticized women demonstrators who opposed Taliban
Female speakers at the protest also criticized the women who have led Kabul's protests in recent days. "We are against those women who are protesting on the streets, claiming they are representative of women," said a speaker. "Is it freedom to like the last government? No, it is not freedom...The last government was misusing women...They were recruiting women just by their beauty," She claimed.
Hijab will save us, we support our government: Protesters
On the subject of a mandatory hijab for women, the protesting women threw their weight behind the Taliban, saying, "Those not wearing the hijab are harming all of us," adding, "The hijab is not an individual thing." Another speaker claimed history had changed since the Taliban came back. "Women will be safe after this. We are supporting our government with all our strength."
Earlier, women protesters had stormed the streets demanding equal rights
This pro-Taliban protest is in stark contrast with demonstrations that the war-torn country witnessed earlier this week. A day after the Taliban announced their new government, dozens of women protested on the streets, demanding equal rights and women's representation in government. Protesters also complained against the abolition of the women's affairs ministry. The Taliban's fighters notably fired into the air to disperse the crowd.
Women's rights: Taliban's actions contradict own claims
Since coming back to power, the Taliban has been trying to distance itself from its oppressive regime in the 1990s. The group has promised to uphold women's rights and allow women to work and study. However, its actions contradict its claims. While women are now allowed to work and study, wearing burqa and segregation of classrooms based on sex, have also been made mandatory.