Taliban officials in Afghanistan’s southern Uruzgan province have ordered male employees to stop trimming their beards and wear turbans to work.
Seeking recognition and much-needed help after taking over Afghanistan in August, the hard-line militant group indicated it would adopt a more moderate stance and right-wing image than it did during its previous brutal tenure more than 20 years ago, and it instituted a radical form of Islamic law.
But the United Nations and many human rights groups have raised concerns, particularly after local media reports surfaced claiming the militants’ actions differed greatly from the moderate image the group’s leaders were trying to project, mainly in dealing with women’s rights, but also in other areas.
Mlawi Taib, a senior Taliban official in Uruzgan, told a January 16 gathering that the hardline Islamist group wanted people to adhere to Islamic Sharia law.
“All employees … should understand the policy of the Islamic Emirate [of Afghanistan] based on Sharia law. All employees are forbidden from trimming their beards and are required to come to work in turbans,” Mlawi Taib said.
In November, the Ministry of Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice issued a series of “religious guidelines” that imposed new restrictions on life under the Taliban.
Uruzgan is one of the provinces where the group has imposed strict rules after returning to power.
Taliban officials have reportedly deployed people in mosques to monitor observance of prayers and religious observances. A book of attendance was introduced in mosques, resulting in penalties for those not attending prayer.
According to reports, such punishments are mainly imposed by employees appointed by the ministry.
The Vice and Virtue Ministry, which replaced the Western-backed government’s Women’s Ministry and took over its building after the militant group took Kabul, was notorious for its abuses, particularly against women and girls, during the previous Taliban rule from 1996 to 1996 2001