Covering Faces is Not The Best Image For Afghanistan

Published May 25th, 2022 - 08:00 GMT
Cover up!
Presenter Sonia Niazi has expressed her frustration with the recent Taliban edict (AFO/Getty Images)

A message to the Taliban. This is not the way to gain acceptance from Afghan society. 'Tooth and nail' tactics just will not do.

And you can't turn the clock back to the 1990s. The aim today should be to unite a country through the new chance you have been given by the international community.

Take just one section: Afghani women and the media. At the moment, there is a struggle going on between women television presenters and the Taliban rulers and their Ministry of Vice and Virtue. Afghani women anchors, going live on TV - public and/or private must cover up their faces. Thank you very much, the eyes of the women anchors can still be seen: Women in black with only the eyes popping out on TV screens. 

It's a travesty, an arm-shot, going back to the old ages. The Taliban should realize that a lot has happened in the previous 20 years, when, like it or not, a degree of women liberation has taken place in the economy, polity, society, family and way of living.

Women have become an active part of the labour force and that shouldn't not be changed, for the psychology and the mentality has already gone into an overdrive, and the main aim should be to develop and build with the adage of going back to the old ages be discarded, thrown asunder and left for another era. 

After all, Islam should be seen as a force of modernization rather than one that holds you back. Islam is a dynamic, flexible religion, not a framework that chains humans into dogmas and doctrines and parochial way of thinking; there is a didactic senses in its percepts that should be studied and objectified. 

The Taliban should thank their lucky stars that Joe Biden made the final move and brought the American troops out of Afghanistan, Kabul and other Afghani cities like Kunduz and Jalalabad in August 2021. It took guts to do that which politicians for the most part, try to stay away from. Before that, there was a lot of talk and money spent on the Afghanistan debacle, but nothing was ever done about the issue with the drain continuing.

The aim today for those people in power, starting with  Zabihullah Mujahid, the Talaban spokesman who has long become its voice and now deputy minister of Information and Culture, shouldn't be to turn the screws on but let them loose.  

The media and before that, education, are crucial important pillars of society because of their staff, personnel, teachers, pupils and parents. If they are alienated and finally driven out then what would the Taliban be left with?

Who would they rule and would they want to rule a society that is alienated, divided, ones that harks back to the past 20 years, with every possibility of ISIS mushrooming in cities like Herat and Kandahar in the countryside. Remember, their operatives still exist with bombs going off occasionally.

Education aside for this is still a big Afghani 'scholastic' debate, the women anchors and presenters may still give the Taliban a headache. At the moment, there is an extensive campaign on the social media against the new ruling that has been passed by the government in early May because the Taliban deems it to be inline with the Islamic Shariah but this is creating such a racket on the virtual world and internationally that officials later sought to calm down by saying the ruling was "advisory".

But if this is so why is the Ministry  of Vice and Virtue starting to make sure the decision is being implemented with harsh consequences for those who don't obey the rule that includes prison and hefty fines. 

Opposition on the social media has been rife under plenty of hashtags.

These include: #StandWithWomenInAfghanistan #Women #Kabul #Afghanistan #Rights #AfghanistanCrisis #FreeHerFace #AfghanWomen #HumanRights. And then there is more:  #LetAfghanGirlsLearn #UNWomenAfghan #StandWithWomenJournalists. And the pictures continue, the glaring images of women in total black and/or covering their faces. The pictures represent images of the "muzzling" of the voice of women; How are they going to present the news when there faces are covered and voices muffled.  Its truly a humiliating stage. 

As a form of solidarity with women anchors, male presenters have been taking to their social media, wearing facemasks in protest at the latest Taliban ruling. As well as appearing on television with their facemasks on, they are also appearing with women in one room sitting together with their facemasks on. This is in itself shows defiance at the latest ruling that maybe the beginning of a step-by-step crackdown on women as was the case with educating female students: First allowing students to be educating till the sixth grade and scrapping women education after that. But even the "till the sixth grade rule" may finally be abolished. 

This means  a sustained campaign by the women presenters has to continue. There maybe a chance the Taliban would backdown for there are all sorts of reasons why women shouldn't appear marked on TV; its sends their wrong messages to ordinary Afghanis and to the rest of the world. 

Finally, faces are windows to our souls and personalities, our faces are our identities, and it is our basic human right to show our identities, one person wrote. 

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