The grand meeting in Kabul of more than 4,000 male clerics and tribal leaders ended on July 2 with a declaration of support for Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers and calls on the international community to recognize the country's as-of-yet unrecognized government.
The three-day "grand assembly of ulema," or religious scholars, was a tightly controlled event where women were banned and delegates were hand-picked by the Taliban. Ethnic and religious minorities were excluded.
The religious scholars ended the meeting with a pledge of allegiance to the hard-line fundamentalist group's reclusive supreme leader, Mawlawi Haibuatullah Akhundzada.
Akhundzada, who addressed the gathering on July 1 in a surprise appearance, heads the Taliban government that took control of Afghanistan after U.S.-led international troops withdrew in August 2021.
Cleric Mujib-ul Rahman Ansari said an 11-point declaration released at the end of the gathering calls on countries around the world, the United Nations, Islamic organizations, and others to recognize a Taliban-led Afghanistan.
It urged the removal of all sanctions imposed since the Taliban takeover and the freeing up of Afghan assets that have been frozen abroad.
"Interact positively, lift all sanctions on Afghanistan, unfreeze the assets of the Afghan people, and support our nation," the declaration stated.
The United States and most of the international community have shunned the Taliban and its unrecognized government, demanding greater inclusivity and respect for minority and women’s rights.
Under the Taliban, girls have been barred from secondary schools while women have been fired from government jobs, prevented from traveling alone, and ordered to wear clothing that covers everything but their faces.
The final declaration did not address the issue of schooling for girls. However, it did call on the government to pay "special attention" to religious and modern education, as well as “the rights of minorities, children, women, and the entire nation, according to Islamic holy law.”
At the end of the gathering, Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a Taliban co-founder, insisted on the mandatory wearing of full hijabs by women in the country and said laws regarding it would be implemented throughout the country.
The international isolation of the Taliban has contributed to the collapse of the Afghan economy and a massive humanitarian crises, with food shortages being reported throughout the country.