Afghanistan: Music will be banned and women will need male chaperones

The Taliban have confirmed a return to the harsh rule brought in under the previous regime (Picture: AP)

A Taliban leader has said it will ban music in public in Afghanistan and women will need a male chaperone for trips that will last several days.

Despite assurances it will be more liberal than it was 20 years ago, a spokesperson for the group appeared to confirm the return to the strict rules under the previous regime.

In an interview with the New York Times, Zabihullah Mujahid said music will not be allowed in public.

‘Music is forbidden in Islam,’ he said, adding: ‘We’re hoping that we can persuade people not to do such things, instead of pressuring them.’

Still, he insisted things would be different under this Taliban rule, rejecting reports women’s rights would be stripped away and that those who worked with foreign powers would face reprisal.

‘We want to build the future and forget what happened in the past,’ he said.

When the Taliban previously ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, they banned virtually all forms of music and destroyed cassette tapes.

Women were confined to the home and anyone who broke the strict rules faced amputation or execution.

After the Taliban re-took the country last Sunday, there were reports that women virtually vanished from the streets overnight.

Radio stations have only been playing Islamic music and the National Institute of Music destroyed their instruments over fears of a backlash.

Mujahid branded concerns that the Taliban would once again force women to stay inside or cover their faces as baseless, and said that women will be allowed to return to their jobs in the future as long as they wear a head covering.

He added that the requirement they be accompanied by a male guardian, known as a mahram, was misunderstood and applies only to journeys of three days or longer.

‘If they go to school, the office, university, or the hospital, they don’t need a mahram,’ said Mr. Mujahid.

He also denied reports that the Taliban was seeking out interpreters and other Afghans who helped US forces, saying they would be safe in Afghanistan.

However, he expressed frustration at American evacuation efforts, which were thrown into turmoil today following a terror attack at the airport that left at least 13 people dead.

He said: ‘They shouldn’t interfere in our country and take out our human resources: doctors, professors and other people we need here. In America, they might become dishwashers or cooks. It’s inhuman.’

Mujahid’s remarks came a day after he announced at a press conference that women should remain inside ‘until we have a new procedure’ in place as the Taliban trains its forces not to harass women.

He said: ‘We are worried our forces, who are new and have not been yet trained very well, may mistreat women. We don’t want our forces, God forbid, to harm or harass women.’

In the meantime, he said women’s salaries will be paid in their homes, echoing what Ahmadullah Waseq, the deputy of the Taliban’s cultural affairs committee, told the Times: That the Taliban has ‘no problems with working women’ as long as they wear hijabs.

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