So much for Taliban 2.0.
“There will be no issue about the women’s rights,” Suhail Shaheen told Fox News in an interview. “No problem about their education, their work. But we should not be after changing each other’s culture as we are not intending to change your culture, you should not be changing our culture.”
Shaheen insisted that Afghan woman “can receive education with hijab. They can work with hijab,” but rejected what he described as the Western view that “women should have an education without [a] hijab.”
The Taliban has sought to present itself as more moderate than the generation that ruled the country between 1996 and 2001, when they were driven from power by US-led NATO forces in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. During that period, women were prohibited from going out in public without a male chaperone and were not permitted to work or go to school.
After the Taliban recaptured the Afghan capital of Kabul last month, another Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, vowed the group would honor women’s rights within the framework of Islamic law. The militants have also urged women to return to school and work, while a third Taliban spokesman granted an interview to a female TV news anchor.
However, the Taliban’s word is not good enough for many Afghan women. The Associated Press reported Friday that around 20 women held a protest outside the presidential palace in Kabul demanding access to education, the right to return to work and a role in governing the country.
“Freedom is our motto. It makes us proud,” read one of their signs.
The AP reported that Taliban gunmen observed the demonstration, but did not move to break it up, though one fighter attempted to disperse bystanders who had stopped to watch the demonstration.
The Kabul protest followed a Thursday demonstration by women in the western city of Herat. The Washington Post reported that protesters in that city marched to the office of the local governor to demand that women be included in the new government.
“The Taliban did not expect to see us on the street,” protest organizer Sabira Taheri told the paper. “They were surprised and did not know how to handle us.”
There were no reports of arrests or casualties stemming from either protest.
With Post wires