Afghan Taliban Minister For Education: Taliban's Ban On Girls' Schooling Consistent With Afghan Culture, Islam, 'If You Stand In The Uruzgan Bazaar And Ask Elders Of Our Villages, You Will Find It Out Yourself'

January 11, 2023

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The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA, i.e., the Afghan Taliban) seized power on August 15, 2021, forming an interim government on September 7. In mid-September 2022, the acting Afghan Taliban Minister for Education Sheikh Noorullah Munir drew attention for defending the Taliban government's ban on girls' schooling by arguing that Afghan culture and Islam do not permit education for girls and women.

After the formation of the interim Taliban government on September 7, 2022, several countries in the West as well as Pakistan, Iran, China, and Russia entertained the possibility willing to recognize the Taliban government. But among its first policy decisions, the jihadi government refused to appoint any woman as a minister and abolished the ministry of women's affairs.[1] The Taliban rejected any suggestion to appoint members of non-Sunni communities, such as Sikhs and Shi'ites to ministerial posts, leading to demands that the Taliban pursue an "inclusive" government policy before their diplomatic recognition.

Sheikh Noorullah Munir, the Afghan Taliban minister for education (left)

Within a month of forming its government, the Taliban also ordered Afghan women – who were ahead of American women in getting the right to vote – to to cover their heads, to not carry mobile phones with cameras, and to not travel without a mehram, i.e., male relative.[2]

In October 2022, weeks after forming the interim government, the education minister Sheikh Noorullah Munir ordered a change in the curriculum and the educational system, saying: "If we find content that contradicts shari'a in any textbook, we will have to replace it;" "if there are things that contradict shari'a law, the laws of our country, or our customs and traditions, we will have no choice [but to ban it];" "Some topics, like music, existed in the previous curriculum, but they are not compatible with our customs, religion, and traditions."[3]

On March 23, 2022, the first day of the school year, Afghan girls arriving at their schools were barred by the Taliban from education altogether. Reacting immediately, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said: "The UN in Afghanistan deplores today's reported announcement by the Taliban that they are further extending their indefinite ban on female students above the sixth grade being permitted to return school."[4] The Taliban education minister Sheikh Noorullah Munir has now blamed the jihadi government's ban on girls' education from grade six onwards on Afghan society and culture.

March 23, 2022: Afghan girls from grade six onwards were banned from schools

In a statement, videos of which appeared online in September 2022, the Taliban education minister justified the education ban based on culture and Islam: "If you stand in the Uruzgan bazaar and ask elders of our villages, you will find it out yourself. If you ask [someone] in the mosque what percent of elders and what percent of people are ready to send their 16- and 17-year-old daughters to school, there will be no need to ask me this question."[5]

"It means we live in Afghan society and know the culture of the people here. The [successive] governments have not given attention to this culture... fatwas [Islamic decrees] have been issued against them [previous governments granting rights to women and minorities]. So we are trying to present such a condition that they [people] may also not [raise] objections, and the Taliban [government] also follows its principles [in continuing the banning on girls' education]," the Taliban minister observed.[6]


[4] (Afghanistan), March 23, 2022.

[5], September 11, 2022.

[6], September 11, 2022.


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