KABUL, Afghanistan. — Women will no longer be allowed to attend classes or work at Kabul University “until an Islamic environment is created,” the school’s new Taliban-appointed chancellor announced Monday, in the latest move excluding Afghanistan’s women from public life.
“As long as real Islamic environment is not provided for all, women will not be allowed to come to universities or work. Islam first,” Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat said on his official Twitter account.
Earlier on Monday, Ghairat tweeted in Pashto that the university was working on a plan to accommodate teaching female students but did not say when this plan would be completed by.
“Due to shortage of female lecturers, we are working on a plan for male lecturers to be able to teach female students from behind a curtain in the classroom. That way an Islamic environment would be created for the female students to get an education,” he wrote on Twitter.
His appointment as Kabul University’s chancellor by the Taliban was met with a storm of criticism over his lack of credentials. Ghairat countered those assessments on Twitter, saying he saw himself “fully qualified to hold this chair.”
He also laid out his vision for the institution Tuesday, saying Kabul University’s aim is to become a hub for “all real Muslims around the world to gather, research and study” and to “Islamicize the modern science.”
“I am here to announce that we will be welcoming pro-Muslim scholars and students to benefit from a real Islamic environment,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Taliban, who ruled over Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001 but were forced from power after a US-led invasion, have historically treated women as second-class citizens, subjecting them to violence, forced marriages and a near-invisible presence in the country.
After they reclaimed the capital, Kabul, in August, the Taliban’s leadership claimed that it would not enforce such draconian conditions this time in power.
But those promises have not materialized. The absence any female representatives from their newly-formed interim government and an almost overnight disappearance of women from the country’s streets has led to major worries about what will happen next for half of its population.
Militants have in some instances ordered women to leave their workplaces, and when a group of women protested the announcement of the all-male government in Kabul, Taliban fighters beat them with whips and sticks.
Women have so far been allowed to continue their university education. But the Taliban has mandated the segregation of genders in classrooms and said female students, lecturers and employees must wear hijabs in accordance with the group’s interpretation of Sharia law.