Pro-Taliban Afghan women in black cause Twitter anxiety

Several women call for ‘death to America’, express satisfaction with ‘behaviour of Mujahideen’*

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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’.

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.

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.

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.