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Taliban-style religious panel draws ire of Heratis

AT News

KABUL: The hajj and religious affairs department in the western province of Herat has recently established an office titled ‘Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice’, aiming to supervise daily jobs in marketplace and other public areas.

Abdul Khaleq Haqqani, head of provincial hajj and religious affairs department, said that the newly-formed office frequently monitor the jobs of restaurants, cafes, trade centers and gynecology facilities.

“We advise the traders not to pay or take loan interest, restaurants not to service narcotics, wine and hookah. Hospitals are advised not to employ men in women diseases departments,” said Haqqani.

He warned to use force with the cooperation of police if their advices were ignored, saying that all clerics in the province back the office.

But the Taliban-style office has faced big reactions from women and civil rights activists.

Taliban used to tease, beat, put in jail and torture people mostly under a large department with the same name during their five-year long rule in the country.

Men with stylish hairs, short beards and fashion clothes were the most targets of the department employees who were walking on the streets of Kabul and other big cities armed with leather lashes to beat people.

They also imprisoned people caught with audio or video tapes. They beat women publicly whose dressing those who were not wrapped in the way Taliban wanted them to.

“Corruption is not as big as it is showed and there are political motivations behind this office. Many of extremist clerics try to get close to Taliban viewpoints and through this, they want to make positions for themselves in the political future of Afghanistan which Taliban are thought to be part of that,” Javad Amid, a civil society activist said.

This comes as Taliban are engaged in a series of negotiations with the government-appointed delegation in Qatar to apparently seek ways for ending the long war.

The government of Afghanistan emphasizes on maintaining of republic values, while the insurgents still insist on their Islamic Emirate.

“This gentleman (Haqqani) has tried to serve by forming this office which is very close to Taliban’s extremist ideology. I call on this gentleman to apologize to the people of Herat because his idea has harmed the province’s prestige largely,” Sonia Ahmadi, a women rights activist said.

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