Taliban officials in Afghanistan's southern Uruzgan Province have ordered male employees to stop trimming their beards and wear a turban at work.
Seeking to gain recognition and much-needed aid after taking over Afghanistan in August, the hard-line militant group initially indicated it would adopt a more moderate stance and rights-friendly image than during its previous brutal stint in power more than 20 years ago, when it enforced a radical form of Islamic law.
But the United Nations and many human rights groups have been voicing concerns, especially after local media reports surfaced claiming the militants' actions differed sharply from the moderate image the group's leaders were trying to project, mainly when dealing with women's rights but also in other areas.
Mulawi Taib, a senior Taliban official in Uruzgan, told a gathering on January 16 that the hard-line Islamist group wanted people to obey Islamic Shari'a law.
"All employees...should understand that the policy of the Islamic Emirate [of Afghanistan] is based on Shari'a law. All employees are forbidden to shorten their beards and must come to work wearing turbans," Mulawi Taib said.
In November, the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice issued a set of "religious guidelines" that imposed new restrictions on life under the Taliban.
Uruzgan is one of the provinces where the group has imposed strict rules after returning to power.
According to reports, Taliban officials have appointed people at mosques to monitor the observance of prayers and religious orders. An attendance book was introduced in mosques, resulting in punishments for those who do not attend prayers.
Such punishments are meted out mainly by employees appointed by the ministry, reports said.
The Ministry of Vice and Virtue, which replaced the Western-backed government's Women's Affairs Ministry and took over its building after the militant group seized Kabul, was notorious for its abuses, particularly against women and girls, during the previous Taliban rule, from 1996 to 2001.