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Taliban decrees rain down on Kabul residents

March 29, 1997 GMT

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ Everyone must paint their windows black so the women inside can’t be seen. No white socks for females. No kite-flying, soccer or videos for anyone.

Once bombarded by deadly rockets, the 750,000 residents of the Afghan capital now are bombarded by Islamic edicts. And in the six months since the Taliban religious army marched into Kabul, many people have come to dread the nightly Radio Shariat broadcasts, fearing another decree.

``We have to listen in case there is something else we have to do,″ said Gul Jan, who wanted to be identified only as a Kabul resident.


The Taliban swept into the capital Sept. 27, throwing out the sitting president and hanging a previous one. It has imposed its strict version of Islamic rule over the two-thirds of Afghanistan it controls.

Women _ the target of most of the Taliban’s edicts _ have been prohibited from working and going to school.

The Taliban say women have to be hidden lest they tempt men. One decree told people to paint their windows black so the women inside cannot be seen by nosey passers-by.

When they do venture onto the streets, women must wear the all-enveloping burqa, which allows only a mesh opening over the eyes. White socks are also out, possibly because they might attract male attention.

Paper bags have been forbidden lest discarded pages of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, find their way into a recycling bin and become transformed _ into a paper bag.

Flying kites is outlawed because it might interfere with prayers. Soccer is against Islam, according to the Taliban, as is music, photography and videos.

Many Islamic activists, even hard-liners, would scoff at such rules, particularly the edicts against women. In Iran, where an Islamic government came to power nearly 20 years ago, women have the right to vote, to work and to hold seats in Parliament.

Mainstream scholars have denounced the Taliban’s decrees as backward and having little to do with religion. Islamic law _ which is based on the Koran and the traditions on what the Prophet Mohammed said or did _ is interpreted by scholars whose opinions often diverge drastically.

But the Taliban rulers are serious about their new rules. They have set up a religious police force that roams the streets of Kabul in pickup trucks equipped with loudspeakers.


The bearded Taliban who ride in the back carry a stick in one hand and a Kalashnikov assault rifle in the other, ready to beat women they find breaking the rules.

In a single day last week, religious police beat six women for various transgressions _ the worst being a woman who allowed her arm to be seen. For that offense, she was dragged from her vehicle and beat publicly.

``This is essential so that other women will observe hijab (the full covering),″ said Haji Kalahuddin, head of the Taliban religious police.

On another day, the religious police beat 24 shopkeepers and taxi drivers for dealing with women who were not wearing burqas.

Two French male aid workers were jailed for 26 days for mingling with Afghan women. They were released last week, but five Afghans charged with them are still in jail and will receive up to 29 lashes as punishment.

Mullah Mohammed Turabi, a cleric who flies into a rage if a woman is in the same room, has been appointed by the Taliban’s supreme commander to establish the code of behavior for Afghans _ including men.

He is the man who ordered all Afghani men to grow beards. Government workers are forbidden to trim their beards. Eighty-four employees were fired for it last week after a Taliban raid of government offices.

Others were suspended for not wearing a turban, which the Taliban say the the Prophet Mohammed wore.

The mullah appeared proud.

``We will continue these raids,″ he said.