Kinder, gentler Taliban bars women from Kabul University

AP Photo

So much for the new and improved Taliban that promised the world that they were coming out of the 5th century and embracing a more modern view of the world. We’ve already seen reports of Taliban fighters beating female protesters with pipes and firing bullets over their heads in some of the outlying provinces. But now they are boldly going back to their brutal, repressive ways right in the capital city of Kabul, where their political office had previously seemed to be at least trying to put on a show of some level of moderation. The Taliban appointed known terrorist Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat as the new Chancellor of Kabul University two weeks ago and one of his first actions was far more than symbolic. He announced that women would not be allowed to study at the university or even work there and would need to stay at home. He did add a couple of caveats to the announcement, but they don’t sound like much to be hopeful for. In other words, it’s one more step back to the treatment of women as property rather than human beings. (NY Times)

Tightening the Taliban’s restrictions on women, the group’s new chancellor for Kabul University announced on Monday that women would be indefinitely banned from the institution either as instructors or students.

“I give you my words as chancellor of Kabul University,” Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat said in a Tweet on Monday. “As long as a real Islamic environment is not provided for all, women will not be allowed to come to universities or work. Islam first.”

The new university policy echoes the Taliban’s first time in power, in the 1990s, when women were only allowed in public if accompanied by a male relative and would be beaten for disobeying, and were kept from school entirely.

As a reminder, Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat has previously gone on record describing Afghanistan’s schools and universities as “centers for prostitution.” That’s the guy they put in charge of the university. Are we honestly supposed to be surprised at this turn of events?

I’m curious what the new Chancellor’s wording in this announcement was supposed to even mean. He said, “As long as a real Islamic environment is not provided for all,” women would not be allowed. Were we supposed to interpret that to mean there might be some sort of “Islamic environment” coming wherein women would be allowed back into the university? Because it sounds to me as if his idea of a true Islamic environment is one where women remain locked up at home and can’t step outside without a full burqa and a male relative escorting them. That’s known as Sharia law.

Of course, Kabul University is still in better shape than the American University in Afghanistan (which we invested more than $100 million into). That place of higher learning is completely closed and abandoned, with the Taliban having taken it over for non-educational purposes. All of the students who had been studying there are now either at home or they’ve fled the country.

Hamid Obaidi, who was previously the spokesman for the Ministry of Higher Education and a lecturer in journalism at Kabul University has given up hope. “There is no hope, the entire higher education system is collapsing,” he said “Everything was ruined.”

The last protest by women attempted in the center of Kabul ended the same as the previous ones. The women were beaten and physically driven from the streets while Taliban fighters fired rifles over their heads. Meanwhile, in many of the outlying provinces, reports are still coming out about Taliban fighters demanding that families “deliver” some of their daughters aged 14 and up to the new management to be “married” to their fighters as rewards for their service. Many of them are not seen or heard from by their families again.

This is your kinder, gentler Taliban in action. Absolutely nothing has changed and the fools at the United Nations and elsewhere who took the Taliban political office at its word during the negotiations don’t seem to have a thing to say about it now.

Just in case you think we might be exaggerating, here’s a video of some charming Taliban fighters beating women in the streets with whips for attempting to protest the new restrictions.