Taliban terrorists have won Afghanistan without a fight. One cannot say for sure why the three lakh-strong trained Afghan army did not put up a resistance. I have noticed, wherever the United States tries to bring democracy, it only ends up bringing destruction. After two decades of fighting the Taliban, and spending billions of dollars in the process, they have been finally handed the end result of it all – the glorious resurgence of the Taliban. America’s foreign policy is nothing short of a joke right now.
Why are Afghans fleeing in fear? The scenes from the airports are enough to make any sensitive person fall apart. Thousands of people running around desperately, fighting amongst themselves to get on a plane to flee Taliban rule. Because that’s what people do when they are struggling to stay alive. The Talibanis themselves are Afghans just like these people. But the Talibanis did not make the rules they want to establish in the country. These are laws laid down by Allah, by Islam. So, do the Afghans who are attempting to flee, not believe in Islam?
The unpleasant truth is that those who are fleeing are not doing so because they are afraid of the Taliban. In fact, what they are fleeing is Islam itself. It’s Muslims feeling Islam because they are justifiably terrified of its 7th-century version in store for them. They wish to adhere to a faith that they have defined for themselves. However, the Islam that moderate Muslims across the globe follow is hardly the one that had been enshrined by the Prophet. The latter is mostly followed by the fundamentalist Islamic factions these days.
Women under Taliban rule
Today, Afghanistan is a burning example of the fact that as a religion, and as a set of laws, Islam is inherently anti-women, anti-human-rights, and against the freedom of speech and expression. So even the most devout Afghan understands that if true Islamic laws are imposed, then women will have literally no rights left. Their right to education, work, run a business, move about freely, cast aside the burqa and the niqab, be independent, and live with dignity and honour — will cease to exist. If they so much as even try to enjoy a bit of independence, they will be accused of adultery, half-buried, and stoned to death by the Taliban. Whenever these men come to power, their first action is to violently attack the rights of women. Why? Because the first targets of the sacred texts and doctrines of Islam, of Islamic laws and customs, are always women. Whether consciously or not, what the Afghans today are running from is this fear. If the Taliban ruled by the principles of democracy and equal rights for all, instead of fundamentalist Islamic laws, then people would hardly feel the need to escape.
Some people say that ISIS, Taliban, Al Qaeda and Boko Haram’s version is not true Islam. But they do not clearly say what true Islam is and which countries are practising it. The truth is, not a single Muslim country, whichever version of Islam they follow, true or fake, treats women as equal human beings.
In a report I read a few days ago, a man from one of the Taliban-occupied areas sadly admitted – ‘We are deeply affected by the return of the Taliban. We can’t talk loudly at home, can’t listen to music, can’t send our daughters to the Friday market. They want to know about our family members. The sub-commander told us we can’t keep daughters at home once they are eighteen. It’s a sin, they must be married off.’
To keep a girl over eighteen at home is apparently a sin. The Taliban army wants a list made of all women and girls between fifteen and forty-five. They are to be wed to the members of their army. The ISIS had called on women to go and join them in their mission and forced these women into sexual slavery in the process. In the name of marriage, the Taliban want more or less the same.
Not many Muslims sympathise with the Afghan women tortured by the Taliban, or women enslaved by ISIS, but shed a tear for Palestinian women. I notice when Muslims torture their own kind, most Muslims are silent. When non-Muslims torture Muslims, most of them get furious. Taliban has already started erasing the pictures of women from Kabul walls because it’s a sin to look at them. They want to ‘erase’ womanhood as they consider it impure. Is this idea created by the Taliban? Of course not. Islam itself treats women as inferior and impure ‘things’, in my opinion, it is a religion riddled with misogyny.
Afghanistan is the new Syria. Next could be Pakistan, and then Bangladesh. Isn’t this Pan-Islamism? Will everyone in the subcontinent have to suffer the consequences of this Pan-Islamism? Will the governments of Pakistan, China, and Russia not bear their share of the responsibility? Rumour has it that the resurgence of the Taliban owes a lot to these three governments. How can any advanced nation of the twenty-first century aid and abet the return of barbaric seventh-century laws? No matter what political motives are behind this, if they are so grossly against the very idea of humanity, then those who continue to seek such gains are beyond any forgiveness and grace. It will not only be the Taliban terrorists, but also their ‘friends’ who are responsible for keeping Afghan women back by a thousand years.
The false promise of Sharia law
The Taliban now look different than they used to. They drive more expensive cars, carry shinier weapons and neither are their clothes as dirty as before. Some might think they have become more open-minded now that they are willing to accept women’s rights. Accept? Yes, they have said they are going to uphold women’s rights, rights of minorities, and the freedom of speech and expression, but all according to the Sharia law. But the problem is Sharia law doesn’t recognise any of these three aforementioned things.
One only needs to read the texts of Islam and its history in order to get a sense of how anti-science and infested with blind faith, how anti-women, against human rights, opposed to freedom of speech and expression, patriarchal and despotic Islam is. To understand their viciousness and barbarism, one only needs to look up the activities of groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaida, al-Shabab, and the Taliban.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban terrorists will once again find a safe haven, as they had before. Like it had been with Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida, back when they were drawing up their blueprint of destruction. The victorious Taliban have declared that they are going to establish the Islamic Emirate in the rest of the world as well, not just in Afghanistan. They want to make the world into a Dar-ul-Islam, or the Land of Islam. No other faith or people will exist in the world. If such are their dreams, how long should such monsters be in power?
Images of brutality
I saw a video yesterday of a group of Talibani militants at the Pakistani border, laughing and telling the security forces of Pakistan: ‘Just wait, we are coming for you next.’ The Pakistani PM is actively supporting the Taliban, claiming they have broken the ‘shackles of slavery’. When the US forces were in Afghanistan, many Talibs had sought refuge in Pakistan. In fact, weren’t the Taliban created by the Pakistani army and its intelligence agency the ISI? In thousands of madrassas and mosques around Pakistan, people are indoctrinated to join the ‘jihad’ in Afghanistan. Without Pakistan’s help it would not be possible for the Taliban to capture Afghanistan.
The fundamentalists in Bangladesh too are cheering on the Taliban. Like in the 90s, they too will perhaps want to travel to Afghanistan now to train with the Taliban so they can turn their own country into Afghanistan. The last attempt was a failure. But now, since the country is rife with religious bigotry, one can’t be too sure that someday soon Bangladesh will not transform into a Sharia country.
Have we forgotten those images of brutality — girls in blue burqas being whipped in public by the Taliban, with men standing around in a circle and applauding? Despite being wrapped from head to toe in a burqa, women could not escape the whip of Islam back then. Who is to say that they will escape this time around?
It took women centuries to gradually break free from the shackles that they had been put in. But it took just two days to put those back on them again and will take even less time to lock them up in darkness. Under Taliban rule, countless talented women will be lost forever, and hundreds of brave women will be stoned to death but no one will remember these things. Patriarchy and misogyny are synonymous with religion. The time for rejecting misogynistic religious dogma for the sake of humanity, to preserve the human race, came a long time ago. Now is its ultimate hour. Men will not be able to thrive for eternity with their 1,400-year-old religious beliefs alone. In order to survive, they will definitely have to peacefully coexist with, as well as acknowledge, the equal rights of all women.
The author is a writer and commentator. Views are personal.
(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)