Afghan Religious Scholars Speak Out on Educating Girls

Taliban minister warns clerics about complaining
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 8, 2023 12:10 PM CDT
Afghan Religious Scholars Criticize Girls' Education Ban
Afghan school girls in their classroom in Kabul on the first day of the new school year, March 25.   (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Afghan religious scholars on Saturday criticized a ban on educating women and girls, after a key Taliban minister warned clerics not to rebel against the government on the issue. Girls cannot go to school beyond sixth grade in Afghanistan, with the education ban extending to universities. Women are barred from public spaces, including parks, and most forms of employment. Last week, Afghan women were barred from working at the UN, according to the global body, although the Taliban have yet to make a public announcement. Authorities present the education restrictions as temporary suspensions rather than prohibitions, but universities and schools reopened in March without their female students, the AP reports.

The bans have raised an international uproar, increasing the country's isolation. Two religious scholars who are well-known within Afghanistan said Saturday that authorities should reconsider their decision. Public opposition to Taliban policies is rare, though some Taliban leaders have voiced disagreement with the decision-making process. One scholar, Abdul Rahman Abid, said institutions should be permitted to re-admit girls and women through separate classes, hiring female teachers, staggering timetables, and even building new facilities. Knowledge is obligatory in Islam for men and women, he said, and Islam allows women to study.

"My daughter is absent from school, I am ashamed," he said, adding: "My daughter asks why girls are not allowed to learn in the Islamic system. I have no answer for her." He said reform is needed and warned that any delays are at the expense of the global Islamic community and also weakens the government. Acting Higher Education Minister Nida Mohammad Nadim said Friday that clerics should not speak against government policy. He made his remarks after another scholar, Abdul Sami Al Ghaznawi, told students at a religious school that there was no conflict over girls' education. He said Islamic scripture was clear that girls' education was acceptable.

(More Afghanistan stories.)

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