Taliban leader says reopening schools for girls hinges on dress codes

Taliban deputy leader and Afghanistan’s acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani said in a rare interview that aired Monday that the reopening of schools for girls would be dependent on establishing conditions related to dress codes. 

Haqqani spoke in an interview with CNN about education in terms of “the situation that exists in Afghanistan concerning the issue of hijab,” saying that “if someone is giving away their daughters or sisters, they do that based on total trust.” 

“We must establish the conditions, so that we can ensure their honor and security. We are acting to ensure this,” he told to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. 

“We all believe that education has been created as a blessing from God which has been made essential to both men and women,” the deputy leader continued. “As I mentioned earlier, there is no one that is opposed to education.”

Earlier this year, the Taliban closed secondary schools to girls until a reopening plan compliant with Islamic law was established.

That decision came after the Ministry of Education promised that all students would return to school after months of education-related restrictions on high school-aged girls. 

The Taliban took over Kabul in August 2021 after a bungled withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Since then, the country has suffered economically, and the insurgent group has limited rights for women and girls.

When the Taliban last ruled in Afghanistan, female education was restricted, as were most employment opportunities for women.

The Taliban issued a decree earlier this month requiring women to be covered in head-to-toe clothing in public. 

Citing the decree, Haqqani said in his interview with Amanpour that he was “committed to the rights of everyone. 

“We are not forcing women to wear hijab, but we are advising them and preaching to them from time to time,” he said. “Hijab is also creating a dignified environment for women’s education and work. Hijab is not compulsory, but it is an Islamic order that everyone should implement.”

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