LIKE the leopard and its indelible spots, the extremist Islamic group that rules Afghanistan, the Taliban, is showing its true and ugly colors. His recent bans on women from attending university and from working in local and international NGOs are his latest blows to women’s rights. They have outraged the free world, but they fit perfectly with the character and goals of international jihadism. The Taliban are incorrigible; The world must acknowledge this reality and take decisive action to confront its human rights abuses and the humanitarian catastrophe that its primitive government heralds.
The world is offended. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described the ban on university education as neither Islamic nor humane. “Is there an Islamic explanation? On the contrary, our religion, Islam, is not against education; on the contrary, it promotes education and science.” The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the UN would meet with Taliban leaders to get more clarity on the edict. The statement said: “Any such order would violate the most fundamental rights of women, as well as being a clear violation of humanitarian principles.”
A US State Department spokesman said the move would “further alienate the Taliban from the international community and deny them the legitimacy they desire.” US Ambassador Robert Wood stated: “The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community. until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls.”
The Taliban are not fit to be in power. People who subsist on religious extremism, gender apartheid and medieval barbarism should not be running a government in the 21st century, ruling over 40 million people.
When it returned to power in August 2021, following the withdrawal of US-led coalition troops, the Islamist group promised, among other commitments, while fighting for international recognition, to respect women’s rights “within the norms of Islamic law.” He promised that “schools will be open and girls and women will go to schools as teachers, as students.” She has renounced everything.
This comes straight from the Salafist playbook; Doggedly bent on imposing their narrow and bloodthirsty interpretation of religion on the entire world, its adherents lie, dissemble, make temporary alliances, and promise enough time to establish themselves and thereafter manifest their true character.
In September 2021, the group had announced that women could attend universities where they were separated from men while wearing their hijabs, but six months later, the government banned girls from attending secondary school. Now, women are prohibited from using gyms, entering parks and working in most sectors. The war against Afghan women, who make up 48.7% of the population, is in full swing.
The last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan (1996 to 2001), women were prohibited from working, girls’ schools were closed, they were forced to wear the burqa, they were prohibited from traveling without a male escort and restricted access to medical care. This was the deplorable situation until they were ousted from power.
After the US-led invasion, restrictions on women were eased, female education skyrocketed, and there was a collective effort by local and international groups to improve women’s rights and create new legal protections for them. In 2009, the Elimination of Violence Against Women Act criminalized sexual violence, assault and forced marriage, and made it illegal to prevent women or girls from studying or working. By February 2021, 27 percent of the country’s parliamentary seats were held by women, according to the United Nations Women’s Count.
World leaders need to realize that the Salafi ideology to which the Taliban subscribe is not suited to modernity; what it does is adapt to it as situations demand. The Taliban will resort to deception and religious manipulation to achieve their ends; but his unwavering ultimate goals are to suppress women, impede Western education, oppose reason, outlaw democracy, restrict science, destroy human freedom, and impose his variant form of religion on the populace.
The Taliban have embarked on a sadistic enforcement of their rules. He abolished the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and reversed the progressive laws and gains of two decades.
World leaders should seize all legal diplomatic options to isolate the barbarian regime and encourage change from within.
UNESCO estimates that Afghanistan’s illiterate population (over 15 years of age) is 12 million. However, studies have shown that no country can achieve sustainable economic development without significant investment in women’s education. It is a basic factor in the growth and development of a country.
GlobalData in 2021 listed countries like Taiwan, Estonia, Italy, Ukraine, Singapore, and Cyprus with a high female literacy rate. Rankings from the World Economic Forum indicated that Norway, Switzerland, the US and Costa Rica, which score high for female education, also have a high level of development and economic diversity.
There is a rational link between women’s equal access to education at all levels and their professional, technical and managerial contributions to the growth of society. Conservative countries like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have discovered this and in recent years have relaxed their austere rules.
The rise of the Taliban should be another stark warning to the Nigerian government which continues to speak of “repentant terrorists”. This is a contradiction in terms; Salafi terrorists do not ‘repent’; ideology is apocalyptic. Like Afghanistan, Nigeria is vulnerable to territorial assault from within by non-state actors, facilitated by the excessive politicization of religion. State governors who neglect education but refuse to separate politics from religion are playing with fire.
Nigeria is currently the sixth most terrified country in the world on the Global Terrorism Index; people with extremist ideology who hold several key political and religious positions must be removed. The terrorist groups that threaten the country must be defeated quickly.
The international community must not compromise with the Taliban. The pressure must continue through sanctions and isolation until its hapless victims are rescued from its tyranny.