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Taliban Religious Police Erect Banners Ordering Women To Wear Islamic Hijab

Afghan women wearing burqas walk down a market street in Kabul.

The Taliban's religious police have erected banners in Kabul that order women to wear the Islamic hijab.

The posters show a woman wearing an all-encompassing burqa and a woman wearing the black chador that is commonly worn by in Iran. Text on the posters proclaims that "according to Shari'a law, a Muslim woman must observe the hijab."

The Taliban-led government's Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice says the posters were installed in Kabul to advise and encourage women to cover themselves in public.

The posters that have appeared around Kabul show the all-encompassing burqa and the black chador, which is commonly worn in Iran.
The posters that have appeared around Kabul show the all-encompassing burqa and the black chador, which is commonly worn in Iran.

Akef Mohajer, a spokesman for the ministry, told RFE/RL's Radio Azadi that despite the warnings on the posters, the obligatory rule for women to wear an Islamic veil will not be enforced.

Mohajer said the banners are "only an incentive for our sisters to be encouraged to wear the hijab."

He also said the posters depict the burqa and the black veil because they are commonly seen in Afghanistan.

However, the installation of the posters has provoked an angry reaction from Afghan women.

Some say the black veil is not the culture of Afghanistan.

One woman who lives in Nangarhar Province told RFE/RL that Afghan women "cover our faces. We do not wear chadors and hijabs. This is not our custom."

Amina Mayar, a resident of Wardak Province, also argues that the hijab and chador are not part of the culture of Afghan women and girls.

Lina, a resident of Kabul, says she was horrified when she saw the new posters from Taliban ministry.

"By doing this, the Taliban want to instill fear in the hearts of the people," Lina told RFE/RL. "They can rule by force and impose a foreign culture on the people. I am afraid of the day when the Taliban will whip women over their heads."

The Taliban regime that ruled Afghanistan during the late 1990s also obliged women to wear an Islamic headscarf. Those who violated the rule were often beaten in public.

Turpiki, an activist and deputy head of the Women's Peace and Freedom Organization, told RFE/RL that the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan "should not think that their previous actions can be repeated now."

"Chador and hijab are not the custom of our women," Turpiki said. "The Taliban should not think that they can once again impose what they want on Afghan women. They will stand up against such actions."

Earlier, the Taliban-led government confirmed that it had ordered bus drivers and taxi drivers not to carry women in their vehicles unless they are wearing an Islamic veil.

According to that order, drivers are also not allowed to transport unmarried women in their vehicles more than 70 kilometers.

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    RFE/RL's Radio Azadi

    RFE/RL's Radio Azadi is one of the most popular and trusted media outlets in Afghanistan. Nearly half of the country's adult audience accesses Azadi's reporting on a weekly basis.