Joe Biden's legacy: Taliban target women, gays and democracy in return of extremism
President Joe Biden was accused of having "blood on his hands" after 13 US servicemen lost their lives in a suicide bombing at Kabul airport last week. His decision to abruptly withdraw from Afghanistan has sparked quite a firestorm, while allowing the Taliban to reinstate a reign of terror across the country.
With the completion of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban is hammering out a framework for its government after having captured all but one of the country's 34 provinces. Despite its promises to Afghan citizens and the international community that it will not return to severely restricting the rights of women and persecuting homosexuals, the terror group appears to be reimposing its brutal interpretation of Islam on the country.
"The people of Afghanistan will continue their higher education in the light of Sharia law in safety without being in a mixed male and female environment," Abdul Baqi Haqqani, the Taliban's acting minister for higher education, said in a meeting on Sunday, August 29. "Men will not be allowed to teach girls," he added. There were no women at the event.
Haqqani justified the proposed changes to the curriculum by saying it was meant to "create a reasonable and Islamic curriculum that is in line with our Islamic, national and historical values, and, on the other hand, be able to compete with other countries."
Former President Ashraf Ghani, whose government was toppled by the Taliban when it seized Kabul on August 15, had extended the rights of women and girls, thereby allowing them to study and work. Now, following the extremist takeover of the country, owners of private universities are forced to protest the separation of male and female students. They have argued that there aren't enough female teachers to facilitate segregated learning, according to the human rights watchdog Taliban Watch. Journalist Bashir Ahmad Gwakh pointed out that the move will "effectively deprive girls of higher education because universities cannot afford it nor there are[sic] enough human resources."
Afghans do not trust the new Taliban regime's assertion that it is different from the previous one which lasted from 1996 to 2001. At the time, the terror group imposed a harsh interpretation of Islamic law, banning women from education and public spaces, massacring religious and ethnic minorities, as well as publicly executing dissidents and homosexuals.
On Tuesday, August 31, it emerged that a gay man was raped and beaten by the Taliban after being lured out of hiding. The victim, who was not identified, was deceived by two Taliban fighters who posed a friend offering safe passage out of the war-torn country. When he arrived to meet them at the capital Kabul, they beat and raped him, even taking his father's number so they could tell him that his son is a homosexual.
Aside from the above, the Taliban has also been accused of forcibly marrying girls as young as 12 to its militants as sex slaves and carrying out door-to-door executions of those suspected of helping western forces during the 20-year war.
The gay man's fate was revealed by Afghan rights activist Artemis Akbary, who is reportedly living in Turkey at the moment. Speaking to ITV News, Akbary said he had been in touch with the man and asserted that the attack was just a snapshot of what life will be like for queers under Taliban rule as final US troops left the country.
"They are trying to tell the world 'we are changed and we don't have problems with women's rights or human rights'," Akbary said. "They are lying. The Taliban hasn't changed, because their ideology hasn't changed. My friends in Afghanistan are scared, they don't know what will happen to them in the future so they're just trying to hide," he added.
It's worth noting that following the Biden administration's calamitous decision to withdraw US troops from Kabul, the Taliban is now in almost complete control of Afghanistan.
There is just one pocket of resistance in the Panjshir Valley, about 100 miles from Kabul, where Afghan forces are reportedly holed up. But while the Taliban may struggle to capture the valley owing to strategic disadvantages, resistance forces have no almost no hope of reclaiming the country from their current position, thereby allowing the Islamists to rule as they please.