Taliban enact more restrictions on Afghans’ air travel, facial hair

Taliban rulers continue a strict and authoritarian rule against ordinary Afghan women, children, and men.

Published: March 31, 2022 7:40pm

Updated: April 1, 2022 12:01am

Taliban rulers in Afghanistan continue to strip away the many freedoms and rights of ordinary Afghan civilians, bringing the country back to the days of Islamic Sharia law rule.  

When the Biden administration decided in 2021 to completely pull United States forces from Afghanistan, thereby allowing the Taliban to take over, many analysts predicted that the country would be subjugated to extreme Islamic rule, erasing all efforts made by the U.S. and the West to improve Afghanistan over the course of two decades. 

In 2022, Taliban rulers continue a strict and authoritarian rule against ordinary Afghan women, children, and men, with draconian restrictions such as prohibiting women from traveling alone, stipulating specific grooming requirements for men, prohibiting access to foreign media, and obtaining complete control of public areas. 

Recently, according to employees and officials working at Afghan airlines and travel agencies such as Kam Air claimed that the Taliban ordered them to stop allowing women to board planes if they were traveling without a male relative.  

This was confirmed by recent media reports indicating the Taliban met with senior officials of various Afghan airlines, issuing a letter ordering restrictions on women traveling on domestic or international flights without a male relative.  

The airline employees received copies of the letter from their bosses, allowing them to circulate copies to media outlets and confirm the reports. The action from the Taliban government to restrict women from traveling alone on planes comes after the terrorist group initiated a ban last year on long-distance road trips for solo women unless they had a male chaperone to accompany them. 

Taliban officials in the Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice stated that they had not issued an order banning women from flying alone.  

Afghan men have also been the target of Taliban restrictions as men who do not have trimmed beards or clothing deemed appropriate under Islamic Sharia law are not allowed to work in various government ministries.  

The recent order by the Taliban comes as it previously banned hairdressers in the Helmand province of Afghanistan from shaving or trimming men’s beards, arguing that it breaches their interpretation of Islamic law.  

Some employees of various government offices did not pay attention to the order and were stopped and warned by Taliban officials that they would lose their jobs. 

Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch and fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, explains that the Taliban’s new restrictions on women traveling alone and refusing employment to men with trimmed beards are “straight from Islamic law, which allows women to go out only with a male guardian and forbids, per a statement attributed to Muhammad himself, the trimming of the beard.” 

Mr. Spencer further states that “the U.S. and the international community should make the ‘humanitarian aid’ they have promised contingent upon the Taliban showing genuine respect for women’s rights in practical ways.” 

In addition to the laws against Afghan women and men, the Taliban’s Ministry of Promotion of Vice and Virtue announced that all of Afghanistan’s parks faced segregation by gender.  

The terms of the order stated that women would only be permitted to visit public parks three days every week, whereas men had the remaining four days, including members of the Taliban. The order for sex-segregated parks also bans couples and families from being allowed to spend time in parks together. 

The Taliban has also started blocking ordinary Afghans’ ability to various media outlets that are completely or partially funded by Western governments.  

News sources like Voice of America (VOA), the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and others have been barred from airing on Afghan television because of restrictive orders from the Taliban.  

According to Robert Spencer, this action “likely stems from the Taliban’s knowledge that the media will cover them negatively and their ongoing desire to attract international aid.” 

Spencer purports that “the U.S. and the international community should make the ‘humanitarian aid’ they have promised contingent upon the Taliban showing genuine respect for women’s rights in practical ways.” 

National security and foreign policy analysts agree that the actions taken by the Taliban will have severe dramatic effects on Afghanistan and its citizens. The restrictions showcase how the terrorist group is re-enacting policies that it espoused when it ruled Afghanistan before the U.S. invasion. 

When asked how the U.S. should respond to the Taliban’s recent actions, director and senior analyst for homeland security and counterterrorism at the Council for Security Policy, Kyle Shideler, explained that “ideally, the U.S. should keep the Taliban as isolated as it was before the U.S. invasion after 9/11, but realistically that is not going to happen.”  

Shideler further explained that “America’s top priority needs to be keeping the Taliban from using its territory to facilitate the growth of international jihad terrorism, and even that is likely to be a heavy lift, given the dilapidated state of U.S. deterrence.” 

“The people of Afghanistan will continue to pay the price for the U.S. government’s refusal to understand the nature of the enemy they were fighting in the Global War on Terror,” he said.

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