Afghan women activists call Taliban leaders illegitimate

Afghan women activists considered Taliban leaders to be “illegitimate”, despite thousands of religious leaders supporting their hard-line Islamic regime.

About 3,500 senior religious figures from all regions of Afghanistan pledged allegiance to the “Taliban” movement and its leader Hebatullah Akhundzada on Saturday, after three days of meetings in the capital, Kabul.

During those meetings organized by the Taliban, thorny issues such as girls’ secondary education were not addressed.

The meeting called for the pledge of allegiance to Akhundzada and allegiance to the “Taliban”, and to the full application of Islamic law, a basic principle of governance.

In response to a question about the absence of women from the meetings, the movement clarified that their presence was not necessary to be represented by male relatives.

“Announcements made or pledge allegiance to the Taliban at a gathering or event without the presence of half of the country’s population, women, are unacceptable,” Hoda Khamoush, an Afghan human rights activist who lives in exile in Norway, told AFP.

She added, “This gathering (…) has no legitimacy or value and has not been approved by the people.”

In Kabul, women’s groups criticized the clerical meeting as lacking “representation”.

“Religious leaders are only a part of society,” Ainur Ozbek, a member of these groups, told AFP.

She added, “The decisions they took serve only their interests, and do not serve the interests of the nation and its people. There was nothing for women in the program or in the (final) statement.”

The activist pointed out that “the only thing that Afghans can do is to raise their voice and ask the international community to put pressure on the Taliban.”

Since the return of the “Taliban” to power last August, the Islamic movement has imposed severe restrictions on Afghans, especially on women, in accordance with its strict interpretation of Sharia.

Girls were prevented from attending secondary school, women were prevented from holding government jobs and from traveling without a mahram, and they were ordered to wear clothes that covered them completely except for their faces.

Source: AFP

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