Afghan women to have rights within Islamic law, Taliban sayon August 17, 2021 at 7:40 pm

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The militant group, which has taken control of Afghanistan, is pressed on fears over women’s freedoms.

The rights of women in Afghanistan will be respected “within the framework of Islamic law”, the Taliban say.

In the group’s first news conference since taking control of the country on Sunday, a spokesman said women would be free to work but gave little detail about other rules and restrictions.

Zabihullah Mujahid repeated that all Afghans must live “within the framework of Islam”.

Rights groups fear women’s freedoms could be eroded under the Taliban.

The militant group introduced or supported punishments in line with their strict interpretation of Islam’s legal system, Sharia law, when they controlled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

Women had to wear the all-covering burka, and the Taliban also disapproved of girls aged 10 and over going to school.

In the news briefing on Tuesday, Mr Mujahid fielded several questions from the international media about what women’s rights could look like under a Taliban government.

“We are going to allow women to work and study within our frameworks,” he said. “Women are going to be very active within our society.”

But he did not expand when asked about dress codes and what roles women would be able to have within the country’s workforce.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Taliban declared a general amnesty across Afghanistan and said it wanted women to join its government.

Analysts say the group is running a sophisticated PR campaign in an effort to win the hearts and minds of both Afghans and the international community.

Also at the news conference, Mr Mujahid:

  • Explained that the Taliban were actively working to form a government and it would be announced in the coming days
  • When asked about the risk of the country housing al-Qaeda fighters or other extremists, he said “Afghanistan’s soil is not going to be used against anybody”
  • He sought to strike a tone of conciliation, saying: “We don’t want any internal or external enemies”
  • The spokesman also attempted to ease fears among Afghans, promising an amnesty for former members of the security forces and those who worked with foreign powers
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Analysis by Mina al-Lami, Jihadist Media Specialist, BBC Monitoring

The Taliban have been putting out a flurry of messages of assurance to locals, banks, businesses, civilian foreign workers, investors, neighbours and regional players in an effort to ease fears about how they will rule.

Aware of concerns about the rights of women and girls, the Taliban tweeted an image on 16 August showing girls “on their way to school”, saying education for girls continues.

They have also been trying to dispel “rumours” about violations by the group, and denied reports that they were forcing families to marry off their daughters to Taliban militants.

But the Taliban have not yet offered details about social matters and freedoms like women’s dress codes and their access to jobs. This will likely come later, not at this early stage when the group is trying to court Afghans and imply that it is now more flexible.

The Taliban are keen to prove that Afghanistan can flourish under their rule, or can at least be a safe and stable country, because this will be a major coup for Islamist rule. Their success, however, is likely to hinge on their ability to be flexible and pragmatic.

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The Taliban’s return to rule brings an end to almost 20 years of a US-led coalition’s presence in the country.

Kabul was the last major city in Afghanistan to fall to a Taliban offensive that began months ago but accelerated in recent days as they gained control of territories, shocking many observers.

Map shows areas of control in Afghanistan

On Monday, thousands of civilians desperate to flee the country headed to the airport where chaotic scenes unfolded throughout the day.

Many thronged the runway, running alongside a moving military transporter aircraft as it prepared for take-off.

Some clung to the side of a plane, and at least two of them are reported to have perished when they fell from the aircraft after it had left the ground.

American troops also killed two armed Afghans who were part of the crowd that breached the airport perimeter. Seven people are reported to have died in total.

Military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians were temporarily suspended due to the chaos, but they resumed on Tuesday.

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