By Moncho Torres
Kabul, Dec 20 (EFE).- The Taliban’s morality patrols have been ordered to act moderately and not impose their strict interpretation of Islamic law, unlike their previous regime that ruled Afghanistan two decades ago women would be publicly flogged for not covering up and men for shaving their beards.
On the front walls of the ministry of Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice that has been set up in replacement of the ministry of women’s affairs, graffiti encouraging women to get educated and work can still be seen.
These drawings come in contrast with the scene on August 15, when people fearfully rushed to paint over posters of women at beauty salons and shops after the Taliban took over Kabul.
The vice and virtue ministry carefully instructs their 10-member committees deployed in various districts on how to act when they witness “vices” among residents, as they are working to change the way they ruled over Afghanistan repressively between 1996-2001.
“Our Jihad was for two purposes, one was to end the invasion in Afghanistan and the second is to build an Islamic government, we achieved the first and now we have to work on the second objective. For building an Islamic government, the ministry of propagation of virtue and prevention of vice is one of the key ministries,” ministry official Mohammad Yahya tells Efe.
As he distributes papers explaining the orders committee members need to follow in Kabul’s Police District 16, Yahya says that they should behave “people softly, not strictly” with people.
According to his method, the members should first explain the vice and then go ahead and use an ”angry accent and scare” those who keep committing vices.
If those steps fail, a person committing vices will be arrested and handed to the district police chief, before informing the vice and virtue ministry to take further measures in case of persisting.
“I am calling on international media to please publish these facts and don’t do propaganda against the Islamic Empire (referring to the Taliban),” Yahya continues. “The rights Islam has given to women are not given by any other religion in the world.”
These instructions come in conflict with reports of Taliban violence, including two Afghan journalists who were arrested and tortured by Taliban forces for covering women’s protests in Kabul in September.
One of the Taliban’s main obsessions is to ‘protect women from the corrupted male gaze,’ which led them to ban girls from secondary education until they provide the ideal environment for them to return to class.
The fundamentalists have also barred women from returning to certain jobs, sparking international condemnation.
In Afghanistan, in addition to the women protesting to regain the rights achieved over the past 20 years, the Taliban are reportedly committing covert attacks on the press and former security forces members.
Several Afghan journalists told Efe on condition of anonymity that they strictly follow the instructions of the vice and virtue ministry.
“Now we are going toward some wedding halls to do the propagation of virtue and prevention of vice. We will describe the rules and regulations which were given to us by the ministry,” Taliban leader Mulavi Najm-Uldin explains.
The vehicle makes a stop, but the manager of the wedding hall is not there, so they drive to another establishment, where the person in charge fearfully invites the armed members of the committee into a room.
Najm-Uldin tells the manager that all activities violating Islamic law are prohibited during wedding celebrations such as putting on music.EFE