Women are now banned from studying or working at Kabul University after the Taliban’s newly appointed chancellor takes office.
Mohammad Ashram Ghairat, a BA degree holder, stepped into the role of chancellor of the university this week after the Taliban fired PhD holder Vice-Chancellor of Kabul University, Muhammad Osman Baburi.
The decision sparked backlash throughout the institution, prompting around 70 members of its teaching staff, including assistant professors and professors, to resign.
On Monday, Mohammad Ashram Ghairat took to Twitter where he signaled that the Taliban appears to be taking a strict approach in enforcing its own harsh interpretation of Islam, similar to that when they were previously in power in the 1990s.
“Folks! I give you my words as the chancellor of Kabul University,” he wrote. “As long as real Islamic environment is not provided for all, women will not be allowed to come to universities or work. Islam first.”
Just weeks ago, the Taliban announced that women in Afghanistan can continue to study in universities, including at post-graduate levels, but classrooms will be gender-segregated and Islamic dress is compulsory.
“We will not allow boys and girls to study together,” acting Higher Education Minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani said at a news conference. “We will not allow co-education.”
Haqqani said hijabs will be mandatory but did not specify if this meant compulsory headscarves or also compulsory face coverings.
The acting Higher Education Minister also said that the subjects being taught would be reviewed but did not elaborate further.
Under the Taliban’s previous rule between 1996–2001, women and girls were banned from attending school or having jobs, and were only allowed out in public if they were accompanied by a male family member or husband. Many were tortured—often publicly—if they disobeyed the draconian measures.
Music and arts were also banned, apart from some religious chants. The organization destroyed all cassette tapes, and CDs, musical instruments, and singing were forbidden, while even captive songbirds, which were often found in marketplaces, were outlawed.
Condemning the hiring of Mohammad Ashram Ghairat, the teachers union of Afghanistan last week sent a letter to the government demanding that it rescind his appointment.
He has also been heavily criticized on social media for his lack of academic experience.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told The New York Times that Ghairat’s announcement that women could not return to Kabul University might be “his own personal view.”