Compulsory Burqa, Taliban Suppressed Protesting Students in Badakhshan

Hasht-E SubhThe officials of the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice department for the Badakhshan province have made it mandatory for female students to wear a burqa, and do not allow girls who do not wear a burqa to enter the university. These double pressures of the Taliban have fed up the female students of this province. They have protested against the imposition of strict restrictions by the Taliban’s authority in front of the entrance gate of the university. The pleas of these students have been severely suppressed by the Taliban, and some of these girls have been beaten up severely. additionally, the Taliban group has warned the girls in the dormitory of Badakhshan University that they have no right to leave the dormitory until further notification.

Several female students started a peaceful march in front of the entrance gate of Badakhshan University on Sunday, October 30, in protest against wearing the compulsory burqa. Videotapes of the protest of these students published on social media show that all of them are wearing masks and also long Islamic clothes, and are waiting for the entrance gate of the university to open, but they are faced with an intense attack by Taliban militants.

One of the videotapes released from the protest of the students of Badakhshan University shows that a Taliban fighter wearing the uniform of a former soldier severely beats the female students and tells them: “Those who wear hijab, can come with pride [to university].” Another video of these students that are circulating on social media shows that hundreds of girls are standing in front of the entrance gate of Badakhshan University, but the Taliban do not allow them to enter.

However, several protesting students said in an interview with the Hasht-e Subh Daily that they are frustrated with the restrictions imposed by the Taliban at Badakhshan University. According to their claim, the Taliban have threatened to expel the protesting girls from the university and called them “Antireligion”. One of these students, who do not want to be mentioned in this report due to the fear of the Taliban, told the Hasht-e Subh Daily: “It was 8:00 a.m. today, and I arrived at the university. To be honest, I was not wearing a burqa. We all had the simple normal hijab. We had masks, but they didn’t let us into the university. The guard of the university, who was wearing a military uniform, did not allow us to enter the gate. And then we protested that education is our right.”

She adds: “They completely locked the gate and did not let us in. The girls went and knock on the door several times. A militant wearing a military uniform attacked us with a baton. He even injured several girls. Unfortunately, one fell, and her hand was severely injured. Everyone escaped away from the gate. We were more than 800 girls. We gathered again. And we started chanting “Woman, life, work, education, freedom”. The university president came to us. There was a lot of noise, and we didn’t hear what he said, but he didn’t accept our words and told us to fix our hijab.” She adds: “The Taliban whipped us, cursed us, and we informed this to the vice president of the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice of the Taliban group, that where in Islam is it allowed for you to whip girls in public and swear to them? He said that we have duties and obligations.” This student claims: “We have been threatened with expulsion by the president of the university and the dean of our faculty, and they have accused us, the religious rebels.”

Based on this description, the president of the university and officials from the Taliban’s Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Badakhshan province approached four of the girls as representatives of the university’s students after the girls were beaten by the university guards. However, the girls who were protesting did not agree to this discussion with the university president. However, today (Monday), the university president invited several protesting girls to the directorate of the university to question them. What will happen to these girls is unclear.

Prochista (pseudonym), one of the protesting students of Badakhshan University, said in an exchange with the Hasht-e Subh Daily: “We went there in the morning, the officials of the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice of the Taliban was in front of the gate. They did not allow any girl without a burqa. Girls wearing veils and masks were not allowed to enter the university. For this reason, the girls protested and then, the Taliban militants attacked the protesters with weapons and started beating them.” According to her, the Taliban insulted and were threatening the girls. Prochista adds: “He was using vulgar language; Give these big phones of yours, we will check them all, and we will expel you all. Everyone’s hijab was normal, they only wanted us to wear a burqa and were constantly cursing.”

Zamarrud (pseudonym) is another student of Badakhshan University who faced the closed gate of the university yesterday. She confirms that the female students were beaten by the Taliban. According to her, female students have also been threatened with expulsion from the university. This student adds: “Today, when the girls wanted to go to the university from the dormitory, unfortunately, the department of the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice of the Taliban is near the dormitory of girls, and the Taliban prevented the girls from going to the university there. They made them get out of their cars and said that they don’t have an Islamic hijab and are not allowed to the university. On the bridge near the university, there is another Taliban security checkpoint, which is also from the department of the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice of the Taliban. They did not let the girls who wore masks and veils pass, saying that you do not have the right to go to university with these veils and study without a burqa.” “Ultimately, the girls made it to the university with a lot of difficulties, and there, those who wore a burqa could enter the university, but those who did not have a burqa could not. Neither their faces were visible, nor their hair was visible. But the Taliban said that you did not observe the Islamic hijab. When the girls saw this situation, they protested and started to knock on the gate of the university. The Taliban militant started hitting the girls’ heads and bodies with a whip to scatter them. But the girls took out sheets of paper at the entrance of the university gate, wrote slogans on them, and started to move towards the province’s governor’s office, and also to the department of the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.” She emphasized that after these protests, the Taliban closed the gates of the dormitory of girls and did not allow anyone to enter or leave it.

In addition, another videotape that has been made available to the Hasht-e Subh Daily shows that the protesting students interrupt the speech of the president of Badakhshan University and chanted: “We defend our rights, we say no to silence, we do not accept the mandatory hijab, not to compulsory hijab.” This is one of the slogans that protesting girls chanted in front of the president of Badakhshan University.

One of the other students of Badakhshan University, who does not want to be named in the report, told the Hasht-e Subh Daily that most of the girls in the dormitory of this university cannot afford burqas. According to her, in addition to the fact that the cost of buying a burqa has increased in Faizabad city, the weather has also become cold and girls have to wear warm clothes to go to university. This student adds: “Not all girls have money to buy black and warm clothes. They have to wear their old warm clothes, but I don’t know why the Taliban do not understand their situation.”

This happens, while the Taliban have previously suppressed protesting female students in Herat and Balkh provinces. These students wanted to march in protest against the attack on the Kaaj Educational Training Center in the west of Kabul the capital, which left more than 57 dead and more than 110 injured, but they were severely repressed. The Taliban have still expelled more than a hundred female students from their dormitories and Kabul University because of their “Aim for protest”. After these students published their poisoning in the media, they were expelled in groups from the dormitory of Kabul University and threatened with death by the Taliban.

Although the local officials of the Taliban in Badakhshan province have not yet expressed their opinion about preventing female students from entering the university, the officials of the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice have warned women in this province several times that wearing masks and long black dresses as the religious hijab, according to them is not acceptable and it is not hijab. They say women are obliged to wear a burqa. The representatives of this group warned female students in Badakhshan province in May this year, that according to the order of their relevant ministry, “Mask does not replace the hijab and is not acceptable.”

On the other hand, according to the order of the leader of the Taliban, which was presented by the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in a press conference, women must cover their faces, otherwise, their “guardians” will be imprisoned and taken to court. In the order of the Taliban leader, it is stated: “First, the home of a woman without hijab should be identified, and her guardian should be advised and punished.” In other paragraphs of this order, it is mentioned: “In the second step, her guardian should be summoned to the relevant department, and in the third step, her guardian should be imprisoned for three days. In the fourth step, her guardian should be handed over to the courts to be sentenced to suitable punishment. In this Taliban order, it has been said that those women who work in government agencies and do not observe the “hijab” will be fired from their duties.

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