Posters have come up all over Kabul city conveying the Taliban’s message to women instructing them to wear the all-encompassing burqa and the black chador.
Taliban’s religious police have erected banners and pasted posters on walls in Kabul mandating that women must wear the Islamic hijab. This follows orders from ministry for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice.
The posters, that came up overnight, bear images of covered women. One image shows a woman clad in an all-encompassing burqa and a second one on the same poster shows a woman wearing the black chador. The text on the poster proclaims: “according to Shari’a law, a Muslim woman must observe the hijab.”
The Taliban-led government’s ministry for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice says the posters were installed in Kabul to advise and encourage women to cover themselves in public.
Akef Mohajer, a spokesman for the ministry, attempted to clarify that this was not being thrust upon people unwilling to cover themselves. He said that the warnings on the posters notwithstanding, the rule will not be enforced.
He explained the banners as “just an incentive for our sisters to be encouraged to wear the hijab.”
Mohajer added that the posters depict the burqa and the black veil because they are commonly seen in Afghanistan.
Afghan women react
The posters have provoked an angry reaction from women. They say the black veil is not the culture of Afghanistan and the black chador is commonly worn by in Iran.
Radio Azadi, a radio station run by a Afghan journalists in exile quoted a woman from the Nangarhar Province as saying that Afghan women only cover their faces. “We do not wear chadors and hijabs. This is not our custom.”
Amina Mayar of Wardak Province, another woman quoted on the radio, also argued that the hijab and chador are not part of the culture of Afghan women and girls.
Lina, a resident of Kabul who spoke to Radio Azadi, said she was horrified when she saw the new posters from Taliban ministry.
“The Taliban want to instill fear in the hearts of the people,” Lina said. “They can rule by force and impose a foreign culture on the people. I am scared to thing of the day when the Taliban will whip women.”
Old story repeating itself
During its earlier rule over Afghanistan from September 1996 to October 2001, The Taliban regime had made it mandatory for women to wear an Islamic headscarf. Those who violated the rule were often whipped in public.
Turpiki, an activist and deputy head of the Afghanistan Women’s Peace and Freedom Organization, says that the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan “should not think that their previous actions can be repeated now.”
“Chador and hijab are not the custom of our women,” Turpiki told boradcasters. “The Taliban should not think that they can once again impose what they want on Afghan women. They will stand up against such actions.”
Earlier, the Taliban-led government had ordered bus drivers and taxi drivers not to seat women unless they are wearing an Islamic veil. Drivers were also not allowed to transport unmarried women in their vehicles for a distance exceeding 70 km.