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HomeWorld‘Un-Islamic’ female mannequins beheaded on Taliban orders in Afghanistan’s Herat

‘Un-Islamic’ female mannequins beheaded on Taliban orders in Afghanistan’s Herat

Video of shop worker using saw to behead numerous mannequins has gone viral on Twitter, leading to questions about Taliban’s priorities as Afghanistan faces a hunger crisis.

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New Delhi: The female mannequins that dot the shopping malls of Afghanistan’s cultural capital are “un-Islamic”, the ruling Taliban has reportedly said, and ordered their heads to be removed. In light of the order, a video of a shop worker using a saw to behead numerous mannequins has gone viral on Twitter. 

Originally shared by Kabul-based author and activist Homeira Qaderi, the video was also posted by BBC Persian journalist Zia Shahreyar, who also put it into context. 

The 40-second video comes four days after Afghan news network TOLOnews reported that the Taliban had ordered shopping malls in Herat to “remove the heads of mannequins”.

“These are the statues — they are defined in the (holy) books and should not be in Islam. These were being worshipped. They (the shopkeepers) said that they display the clothes on them,” the report quoted the chief of Herat’s “department of vice and virtue” as saying.

According to the report, the department “warned that the shopkeepers will be punished if they violate the order”. It added that the order has come under criticism from garment-sellers and mall owners.

The video has generated a furore on social media, with some users questioning the priorities of the Taliban regime as Afghanistan faces a humanitarian crisis spurred on by a food shortage and a crashing economy. 

“This doesn’t make mannequins less sexy, or men less aroused. It just sends the message that a woman’s body is amenable to the utmost graphic violence,” a user pointed out.


Located in western Afghanistan, the oasis city of Herat is the country’s third most populous, and is seen as Afghanistan’s cultural heritage and arts centre, according to an article written by historian C.P.W. Gammell in Prospect Magazine

The city’s majority Tajik and Hazara population, which primarily speaks Dari, “fared badly” under the rule of the Pashto-speaking Taliban in 1996-2001, Gammell added. Following the August 2021 takeover, the city’s residents have attempted to keep the cultural “spirit” going “in defiance of the Taliban”, he said.

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

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