KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban will stick to their strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia, a spokesman said Thursday, underscoring the group’s intention to continue hard-line policies implemented since they took over Afghanistan more than a year ago.
During their previous years in power in the late 1990s, the Taliban carried out public executions, floggings and stoning of those convicted of crimes in Taliban courts.
After they overran Afghanistan in August 2021 as American and NATO forces were in the last weeks of their pullout from the country after 20 years of war, the Taliban initially promised to be more moderate and allow for women’s and minority rights.
Instead, they have cracked down heavier on rights and freedoms.
Women are banned from parks, funfairs, gyms and most forms of employment. They are ordered to cover themselves from head to toe. Girls are forbidden from going to school beyond sixth grade. There are also clampdowns on music and the media.
According to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, the group’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhunzada, met with Taliban judges a few days ago and instructed them to implement Sharia law in their rulings.
Mujahid said this instruction prompted perceptions that Islamic law had been abandoned in the Islamic emirate, as the Taliban call their administration. But that is not the case, he added.
“It doesn’t mean that the Islamic emirate didn’t implement the limits of Allah Almighty since it came to power,” he said. “Rather, the Islamic emirate is committed to implementing all Sharia laws from day one.”
Videos and photos of Taliban fighters punishing people for various offenses have frequently appeared on social media in the last 15 months, although officials have never confirmed these incidents.
The former insurgents have struggled in their transition from insurgency and warfare to governing amid an economic downturn and the international community’s withholding of official recognition.
The United Nations has said it is increasingly concerned that restrictions on girls’ education, as well as other measures curtailing basic freedoms, will deepen Afghanistan’s economic crisis and lead to greater insecurity, poverty and isolation.