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Indian Muslim Forum Slams Taliban for Banning Women From Universities

The IMSD has appealed to the international community to intervene urgently and demanded the revocation of the ban.

Representational use only.Image Courtesy:Flickr

The Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) has unequivocally condemned the “blatantly misogynist decree of the Taliban effectively banning women’s education” in Afghanistan.

In a press statement signed by human rights defenders, women’s rights activists, educationists, lawyers, authors, filmmakers and actors released on Friday, the IMSD said that Afghan girls haven’t been able to access schools since the 2021 Taliban takeover despite the new government promising to open girls schools from March 23. “The same day, they revoked the order.”

On December 20, the Taliban banned women from attending universities, the IMSD said. “As always, no reasons were cited; neither did they indicate whether this is just a temporary measure. Going by what they have done with schools, the ban appears to be a permanent one.”

Reminding the international community that the Taliban, during the Doha negotiations, had “promised not to roll back whatever little gains Afghan women had made in terms of education”, the IMSD said: “Those who were spinning the narrative that the Taliban 2.0 was different from its earlier version now need to explain their continued support to this fanatic group.”

Criticising Indian Muslims who had celebrated “the Taliban takeover”, the statement—signed by noted poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar, famous actor Naseeruddin Shah, rights activist Teesta Setalvad and documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan—read: “They need to ask themselves whether this is the future they envision for half the Ummah. This is the time when the Muslim world should sit up and take notice of what happens when we empower religious orthodoxies.” 

The forum pointed out that “such anti-women diktats should not be seen as exceptions” as the “increasingly marginalised idea that Muslim women should not be educated has a long genealogy in the Muslim world”.

Slamming the “(in)famous Deobandi Ashraf Ali Thanwi, who never wanted women to have even an iota of modern education”, the IMSD said: “Deoband is the spiritual fountainhead of the Taliban; hence, it shouldn’t surprise us that its ideological descendants are excluding women from all public spaces, including schools and universities.”

The forum believes that a fight against the “depravities of the Taliban will be incomplete without questioning the very foundational ideas which inform such antediluvian practices”.

Expressing solidarity with all struggling women and men in Afghanistan who are “resisting such evil decrees of the regressive Ulama”, the IMSD welcomed the criticism of the Taliban’s “regressive step” by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The IMSD appealed to the international community to “intervene urgently” and demanded that this “grossly violative decision be taken back immediately”. “We also appeal to all Indian Muslim organisations to outright condemn this misogynist action of the Taliban regime,” it added.

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