Propaganda or hope for middle and high school girls? Sirajuddin Haqkani, the interior minister of the government appointed by the Taliban, promised on Monday “very good news” about the return of girls in Afghanistan to secondary schools “very soon”.
A problem with the schoolgirl’s dress
“I want to make a statement. No one is against the education of women,” Sirajuddin Haqqani, long-time one of the most secretive Taliban leaders, said in his first television interview with US channel CNN International.
At the end of March, the Taliban (which has been in power since the withdrawal of American forces in August) closed high schools and colleges for girls, just hours after their long-announced reopening. Girls can still attend primary school. However, “beyond these levels, work continues on a mechanism” for reopening secondary schools, he said in this rare interview. This “mechanism” would be linked to the dress code required for future students, explaining that education should be based on Afghan “culture” and “Islamic rules and principles”, and referring “more broadly” to the problem of wearing the hijab.
You will hear very good news about this very soon.
After the Taliban came to power, they demanded that women wear at least a headscarf, a scarf that covers their heads but reveals their faces. But since the beginning of May, they have been imposing on them to wear a full veil, preferably a burqa, which was already mandatory when they first came to power between 1996 and 2001.
“Whoever entrusts his daughters or sisters does so on the basis of complete trust. We must create the conditions that will ensure their dignity and safety. We are taking steps for this,” he said.
This unexpected turnaround, ordered by the movement and the country’s greatest leader, Hibatullah Akhundzade, enraged the international community.
He put a price on his head in America
Sirajuddin Haqqani is on the FBI’s most wanted suspects list, which has pledged up to $10 million for information that could lead to his arrest.
On CNN, however, the minister explained that “the last two decades have been a period of defensive warfare and warfare”, but that he would like to “have good relations with the United States and the international community” in the future. “At the moment we do not see them as enemies,” he insisted, reassuring that the Taliban intended to respect the agreement signed with Washington in 2020, in which it pledged not to allow Afghanistan to again become a back-base for terrorist attacks targeting Americans.