The incorrigible Taliban continues with its grotesque policies and actions in its self-certified moderate avatar, now beheading shop mannequins in Afghanistan for offending Islam. They told shopkeepers in the western province of Herat to hack the heads off their mannequins after Muslim officials ruled the statues were ‘idols’.
While idolatry, or the worshipping of idols, is considered a grave sin in Islam, how mannequins are idols for worshipping is a question no Taliban official is attempting to answer.
This week, the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Herat, which is responsible for administering the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Islam, issued the ruling.
Initially, the ministry had ordered shops to remove the mannequins completely, but shopkeepers complained, saying it would destroy what little business they are left with.
After listening to the complaints, Sheikh Aziz ur Rahman, the head of the ministry, ruled that the mannequins’ heads be cut off instead.
But business owners say hacking their mannequins apart still represents a significant financial loss at a time when Afghanistan’s economy has more or less collapsed.
Abdul Wadood Faiz Zada told the Italian newspaper Repubblica, “The heads of the mannequins should be covered, not removed. Each mannequin costs $ 100, $ 80 or $ 70, and beheading them will be a huge financial loss.”
Mohammad Yusuf said, “The Taliban have not changed, there will be restrictions once again. They have not gained international recognition, but should they obtain it, they would bring back even stricter limitations.”
Since recapturing Afghanistan over the summer in a rapid advance behind the back of withdrawing American troops, the Taliban has been slowly restricting the freedoms of its population while claiming to the world that it has ‘reformed’.
Women and girls were immediately confined to their homes for ‘safety’, while the Taliban set about largely removing them from workplaces and schools.
In recent weeks, the Islamists also banned women from taking long-distance road trips without a male guardian and said they must also wear a veil while in the car.
At the same time, they banned all music in vehicles and said that ‘intoxicating’ substances were also prohibited.
Drivers should also stop their vehicles at prayer times in a ‘proper place’ so that prayers can take place, the ruling added.
Afghanistan, propped up for two decades by support funds from western nations and aid money and India’s engineers, has all but collapsed since the Taliban retook control.
Aid money has dried up, and while western nations have promised billions in funding, they are still wrangling over ways to get in into the country without handing it to the Islamists.
The UN’s food programme warns that up to half the population are now facing starvation before the end of winter, as economic catastrophe combines with drought to plunge huge numbers into poverty.
Aid agencies are reporting that families have begun resorting to desperate measures to afford food, including putting children to work or — in some cases — selling babies to afford bread and other basics.