Twitter users are perturbed at women who dressed head to toe in black as they participated in pro-Taliban events in Kabul on Sunday.
Journalist Lotfullah Najafizada posted an image on Twitter that showed the women at a university event. All women were seen wearing black and some even covered their hands and faces. Similar images flooded social media after the women left the university and took to the streets to in support of Afghanistan’s new regime. They reportedly chanted slogans against the US and expressed satisfaction with the ‘behavior of the Mujahideen’.
Another journalist Sana Safi said that she had never seen women covered to that extent in Afghanistan before, even though she lived for over a decade in conservative centres of the country. She recalled that her first encounter with a ‘niqabi’ woman was in fact in London.
To people asking is this Afghan?
I spent my first 11 years in the “conservative South” (Kandahar & Helmand) and the remaining 7 in the “conservative East” and I’ve NEVER seen this form of “Hijab.”
The first time I saw women in Niqab was after I arrived in London. https://t.co/5boVhEr2Yd
— Sana Safi ثنا ساپۍ (@BBCSanaSafi) September 11, 2021
Women’s rights activist Fereshteh Forough called the women the ‘dark riders’ of the Taliban regime and said that Afghanistan was otherwise a colourful country.
— Fereshteh Forough (@f_forough) September 11, 2021
Afghan writer Amin Arman insisted that the women did not represent all of Taliban. Arman added that Afghanistan had many fundamentalist men and women who were also against academia but were unacceptable to the people.
These are not all Afghanistan. Afghanistan has many extremist-religious men and women who embrace the inhumane and anti-academic laws of the Taliban terrorists; But this is never acceptable to us and we do not accept it. #NoToTaliban pic.twitter.com/AtLKwRjVHw
— Amin Arman (@amin_arman99) September 11, 2021
An Afghan woman, Humaira Ghilzai was in disbelief and felt that it wouldn’t be a surprise if men were found under the heavy clothing instead.
I concur. I wouldn’t be surprised if men are found to be shrouded under all that fabric. https://t.co/Tdi6SGag04
— Humaira Ghilzai (@HumairaGhilzai) September 12, 2021
Younas Ejazi, an Afghan musician said that he agreed with United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson who likened women in similar niqabs to a ‘letter box’ in 2018. Ejazi added that the hijab seen on pro-Taliban women was a ‘Salafist import’ and was not a part of traditional Afghan heritage.
I never thought I'd say this, but if Boris Johnson called this sort of face veil a 'letter box' , I'd happily agree with him! Niqab has never been part of Afghan culture, but a Salafist import. https://t.co/gwfawxrLbz
— Younus Ejazi | یونس اعجازی (@younasejazi) September 11, 2021
An Iranian journalist Alinejad Masih looked at the images in broader context. She urged western women to not make light of women fighting against compulsory hijab. Masih added that the images of women clad in black represented a ‘gender apartheid upholding religious dictatorship’.
To my western sisters:
When we are fighting against compulsory hijab please do not downplay our cause.This is how women are going to live under the Taliban rule. Compulsory hijab is the main pillar of a gender apartheid upholding religious dictatorship. pic.twitter.com/THIusWysrM
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) September 11, 2021
Not everyone was shocked at the images. Journalist Modaser Islami noted that women who gathered in favor of conservatism weren’t an anomaly in Afghanistan. Islami said that such events were normal but hadn’t gained traction in the media for the last 20 years.
A women-only gathering in Kabul today to support "Islamic system" and "Hijab". This is not the first time gatherings like this is happening in Afghanistan as some are portraying it. Such gatherings were largely ignored by mainstream media in last 20 years. pic.twitter.com/sNb4FmgVaX
— Modaser Islami (@mmodaser) September 11, 2021
Journalist Bashir Ahmad Gwakh who covers Afghanistan said that the women at the university or protest would not be harmed by the Taliban for saying their part unlike others who spoke against the conservative leadership.
— Bashir Ahmad Gwakh (@bashirgwakh) September 11, 2021
Pro-Taliban women protested after anti-Taliban women held several rallies for their rights and freedoms in the last few days. One such protest on September 4 turned violent as Taliban fighters surrounded women and unleashed tear gas on them. Journalists who covered the anti-Taliban protests were also reportedly captured and beaten.