Taliban blocked flights of unaccompanied women, officials say – NBC Chicago

Afghan Taliban leaders have refused to allow dozens of women to board several flights, including some overseas, because they were traveling without male guardians, two Afghan airline officials said on Saturday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the Taliban, said dozens of women who arrived at Kabul International Airport on Friday to board domestic and international flights were told that they could not do this without a male guardian.

Some of the women were dual nationals returning home overseas, including some from Canada, according to one of the officials. The women were denied boarding on flights to Islamabad, Dubai and Turkey on Kam Air and state-owned airline Ariana, officials said.

The order came from the Taliban leadership, an official said.

On Saturday, some women traveling alone were allowed to board an Ariana Airlines flight to the western province of Herat, the official said. However, by the time clearance was granted, they had missed their flight, he said.

The president and airport police chief, both members of the Taliban movement and Islamic clerics, were meeting with airline officials on Saturday.

“They’re trying to work it out,” the official said.

It remains unclear whether the Taliban would exempt air travel from an order issued months ago requiring women traveling more than 45 miles (72 kilometers) to be accompanied by a male relative.

Taliban officials contacted by The Associated Press did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Since taking power last August, Taliban leaders have bickered among themselves as they struggle to transition from war to government. It pits the hard-liners – like interim prime minister Mullah Hasan Akhund, who is deeply rooted in the old guard – against the more pragmatic of them, like Sirajuddin Haqqani. He took over the leadership of the powerful Haqqani network from his father Jalaluddin Haqanni. The elder Haqqani, who died several years ago, is from the generation of Akhund, who ruled Afghanistan under the strict and unchallenged leadership of Mullah Mohammad Omar.

Many Afghans are infuriated to know that many younger generation Taliban like Sirajuddin Haqqani are educating their daughters in Pakistan, while in Afghanistan women and girls have been the target of their repressive edicts since coming to power.

This latest attack on women’s rights in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, which bans women from air travel, comes just days after the all-male, religiously motivated government broke a promise to allow girls to return to school after sixth grade.

The move has angered the international community, which has been reluctant to recognize the Taliban-led government since the Taliban came to power last August, fearing they could revert to their harsh 1990s rule. Taliban to open education to all Afghan children has also infuriated large sections of the Afghan population. On Saturday, dozens of girls demonstrated in the Afghan capital to demand the right to go to school.

Following the Taliban’s ban on girls’ education beyond grade six, women’s rights activist Mahbouba Seraj took to Afghan channel TOLO to ask, “How can we, as a nation, do you still trust with your words? What should we do to please you? Should we all die?

An Afghan charity called PenPath, which runs dozens of “secret” schools with thousands of volunteers, plans to stage protests across the country to demand the Taliban rescind their order, said Matiullah Wesa, founder of PenPath .

At the 2022 Doha Forum in Qatar on Saturday, Roya Mahboob, an Afghan businesswoman who founded an all-female robotics team in Afghanistan, received the Forum’s award for her work and commitment to education. girls.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West canceled meetings with the Taliban at the Doha Forum after classes for older girls were halted.

US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter said in a statement that “we have canceled some of our commitments, including scheduled meetings in Doha and around the Doha Forum, and have made it clear that we consider this decision as a potential turning point in our commitment.

“The Taliban’s decision, if not quickly reversed, will profoundly harm the Afghan people, the country’s economic growth prospects and the Taliban’s ambition to improve its relations with the international community,” he said. she declared.

West acknowledged that the Taliban had promised since taking power to allow girls and women to go to school. He said the United States and the international community had received “necessary assurances” that this was going to happen.

“I was surprised at the turnaround last Wednesday and I think you saw the world react in condemning this decision,” West said. “It is above all an attack on the confidence of the Afghan people because they made the commitment.

He added: “I believe hope is not lost. I have spoken to many Afghans here who also believe that. Hopefully we will see a reversal of this decision in the coming days.

In an interview after receiving the Doha Forum award, Mahboob called on the many world leaders and policy makers present at the forum to pressure the Taliban to open schools for all Afghan children.

The robotics team fled Afghanistan when the Taliban returned to power, but Mahboob said she still hoped a science and technology center she had hoped to build in Afghanistan for girls could still be built.

“I hope the international community, the Muslim communities (have not) forgotten Afghanistan and will not abandon us,” she said. “Afghanistan is a poor country. It doesn’t have enough resources. And if you (take away) our knowledge, I don’t know what will happen.”

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Associated Press writer Lujain Jo in Doha, Qatar, contributed to this report.

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