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Taliban Appointed Rector of Kabul University Bans Women from Campus

“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,” said newly appointed rector Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat.

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While the United Nations and Western countries “condemn” the Taliban’s lack of “inclusiveness,” the terrorist group continues to crush the most basic rights of women, the most recent move coming from Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat, the new rector of Kabul University, who banned women from entering the Afghan capital’s most important educational campus.

“I give you my words as chancellor of Kabul University,” Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat had said in a now deleted 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.”

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Screenshot of Ghairat’s now deleted tweet.

The tweet caused reactions and concerns for female students who clearly wish to continue attending college classes. A New York Times report explains that 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.”

According to a brief profile developed by the Times in the story, Ghairat is a young man (34 years old) with little educational experience to hold the position of rector. On the other hand, he is a great devotee of the Taliban movement and, according to the New York media, “has referred to the country’s schools as ‘centers for prostitution.'”

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Estudiantes afganos escuchan a unos oradores en la Universidad de Educación Shaheed Rabbani en Kabul, Afganistán, 11 de septiembre de 2021. (Image: EFE)

Concerns about Kabul University

Some female professors, anonymously to protect their safety, told the Times that the Taliban authoritatively imposed their vision of how one should live under the Islamic faith. They believe and profess their faith, but even so, the group always goes further in its restrictions.

“In this holy place, there was nothing un-Islamic,” said a professor at Kabul University who, according to the Times, worked relatively freely for the past 20 years until the Taliban’s return to power. “Presidents, teachers, engineers and even mullahs are trained here and gifted to society(…) Kabul University is the home to the nation of Afghanistan.”

“Everything was ruined,” Hamid Obaidi, a former spokesman for the Ministry of Higher Education who was also a professor at Kabul University’s School of Journalism, told the Times, “There is no hope, the entire higher education system is collapsing.”

While the Taliban have tried to show the world a more “inclusive” image compared to their first term in the 1990s, the measures they have been taking —such as banning music, barring women from returning to work or outlawing protests against them— show that they remain a radical and authoritarian group.

However, Ghairat himself, whose appointment has caused much controversy, tried to play down the criticism in a comment to the Times: “I haven’t even started the job yet (…) How do they know if I am qualified or not? Let time be the judge.”

According to the report, Afghanistan’s teachers’ union asked the Taliban regime to reverse Ghairat’s appointment in a letter. The request was ignored.

Ghairat explained that he was chosen as rector because he worked for 15 years with the Taliban on cultural affairs. There is not much information about the new rector of Kabul University, but some of his colleagues described him as an asylum seeker and radical who had problems with professors and colleagues.

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