In April 2021, President Joe Biden announced the retreat American troops in Afghanistan. As evacuation plans progressed, the Taliban made profits across the country, which worried Afghans.
Dr. April Najjaj, Assistant Professor of History, discussed in an interview with The Mesquite. the situation in Afghanistan and what it could mean for the women in the country August 25.
“In those 20 years (that the US was in Afghanistan) the Afghans saw something different,” said Najjaj. “You saw something better. It gave an entire generation education and opportunities that many of them would not otherwise have had. “
In the 50s and 60s the country was relatively secular. If that Soviet Union Invaded Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, Islam was used by Afghans as a tool to oppose Soviet rule, she said.
Najjaj said that communists are considered atheists in the Muslim world, so their religion has been used to protest.
“A nation state and a democracy are western inventions,” said Najjaj. “It’s hard to take these ideas and transfer them to a non-Western society…. When people in the Muslim world want to strengthen their traditional values, they often turn to religion. “
She said the Taliban, which means “students” in Arabic, grew under Soviet rule.
“The Taliban were students who claimed to be learning about religion,” said Najjaj. “The problem is, they learned a very conservative version of it.”
Najjaj said the Taliban took control of the country from 1996 to 2001 because Afghans honor tribal and family loyalty, rather than loyalty to the government where they enforced their conservative interpretation of Islam.
But Islamic law is not uniform, said Najjaj.
“In the variations of Islamic law, there are variations in women’s rights,” said Najjaj. “In religion women have more rights than they often know.”
She said that men’s interpretation of Islamic law has compromised women’s rights.
“It’s not about religion – it’s about political power,” she said. “They use religion as a tool to gain and retain political power.”
Under the Taliban rule before the US occupation, women were not allowed to attend universities or receive further education; Few women had jobs outside of the household and were expected to dress ultra-conservatively, Najjajj said.
Najja said: Many women did not try to defy these rules because the idea of protest is a western concept.
“In the time the US stayed there, it gave a whole generation of Afghans a different kind of society in terms of the ability for women to own businesses, have more personal freedom, and have a place in public,” said Najjaj .
Najjaj said many fear the Taliban will enforce the conservative interpretation of Islam previously advocated.
The issue for the future is uncertainty and control, said Najjaj.
The Taliban have made a lot of noise for being more enlightened and progressive, but Taliban fighters come from different parts of the Muslim world and some cannot read, which can cause problems reading ID documents, she said.
“Such people are the people who the Taliban leaders deliberately recruited because they are more inclined to follow this harsh religious line that the Taliban have pursued in the past,” said Najjaj.
It notes how much Afghans have helped American forces, and it is important that the US honor its commitment.
“We owe it to them. They got out of hand for us… ”she said. “Without the translators, the interpreters and the people who knew how the culture works, we could never have functioned in Afghanistan.”
Najjaj said she was glad so many Americans were ready to have AfghansS. Refugees move to the United States, hoping for a change of heart among the opponents.
“When you think about what it’s like to be a refugee and have to leave it all behind … I think most Americans have never thought about it.” Najjaj called. “There are always those who are afraid of immigrants, and that’s a shame because that diversity is what makes the United States such a great place.”