Since its return to power last year, the ultra-conservative group has imposed several restrictions—banning senior girls from education, segregation of public spaces like parks and offices, restricting women’s freedom to travel alone, and now banning male employees without beards— in an attempt to return to their hardline Islamist rule of the 1990s
Several employees working in Taliban ministries in Afghanistan were not allowed in offices as they were not sporting a beard as mandated by the group’s moral policing department, local media reports said. The move, the latest in many recently issued repressive orders, indicated the group’s willingness to drag the country back to what many see as the dark days of the 1990s when the fundamentalist grouping ruled the country through hardline social diktats in accordance with their interpretation of the Sharia, the Islamic canon.
On Monday, personnel of the Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, considered a moral policing department, were patrolling the entrances of several government offices, ensuring workers have beards and observe the traditional local dress code.
Those found violating these rules were told to mend ways or risk their jobs.
Since its return to power last year, the ultra-conservative group has imposed several restrictions—banning senior girls from education, segregation of public spaces like parks and offices, restricting women’s freedom to travel alone, and now banning male employees without beards— in an attempt to return to their hardline Islamist rule of the 1990s.
All these decisions, resented by normal Afghans, the group justifies as implementing them under the strict implementation of Sharia and “Islamic values.” However, global Islamic scholars dispute their legitimacy and the Taliban’s interpretation of Islam which they say has been twisted to suit the group's political agenda.
Interestingly, the group is further tightening its control on media. BBC language services in Pashto and Persian stopped broadcasting in the country, citing interference by the Taliban officials. Voice of America (VOA) follows the suit for the same reason.
The United Nations has called the banning of international media broadcasts “another repressive step against the people of Afghanistan.” The website of the BBC Pashto service said it was “a worrying development at a time of uncertainty and turbulence.”
Significantly, the Taliban’s recent social orders, including a reversal on the girls' education, and its determination to enforce these, intensified after the Taliban’s Supreme Leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada held a three-day meeting with senior leaders in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban movement.