Growing fear in Afghan universities that women will never be allowed to return

Then, two weeks ago, the Taliban began to replace the leaders of major Afghan universities. Their choice at Kabul University, the country’s first public college, sparked particular outrage: the new chancellor was Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat, a 34-year-old fan of the movement who has been widely criticized in academia and on social media. social groups as being unqualified and holding troubling views on women’s rights.

In a symbolic act of resistance, the teachers’ union in Afghanistan sent a letter to the government last week asking it to quash Mr. Ghairat’s appointment.

That outrage escalated on Monday, when a message on a Twitter account saying it was Mr. Ghairat’s official media outlet said women would not be allowed to return to Kabul University while a “true Islamic environment” would not be established. (The Times could not verify that the account was managed by the Chancellor or a representative from his office.)

This statement echoed earlier statements by Taliban leaders that women would ultimately only be allowed to return to the classroom after a safe and Islamic environment was established, including separate classes.

Some female staff, who have worked in relative freedom for the past two decades, backed down, questioning the idea that the Taliban had a monopoly on defining the Islamic faith and fearing that the real intention of the group is perpetually to keep women away from education. , as in the 90s.

“In this holy place, there was nothing un-Islamic,” said one speaker, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, as did several others interviewed by The New York Times. “Presidents, teachers, engineers and even mullahs are trained here and gifted for society,” she said. “Kabul University is home to the Afghan nation.”

After the Twitter post, several calls to reach the chancellor’s office and senior assistant for confirmation were rejected, with the aide saying Mr. Ghairat would not speak to the press and referring reporters to a senior spokesperson for Taliban.

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