'Ministry of vice' fills Afghan women with fear
The Sunday Times (U.K.) ^ | 07/23/06 | Christina Lamb

Posted on 07/22/2006 4:12:36 PM PDT

I do not wish to speak against President Bush and the war on terror, but as we have noted in previous news articles, and as the Lord has indicated in articles on this website that Islam is the Forth Beast of Daniel. And that from out of their Talmudic hatred ,killing, and destruction, shall arise the False Prophet and the Antichrist. It is plainly prophesied that the Antichrist and the beast of Islam shall make war with Israel and the Church and stamp in pieces and trample and break in pieces the residue of the church and Israel throughout the world. – So to defeat the Taliban and re-establish an Islamic government whether freely elected or not is an exercise in utter futility. And as we read in this article the freely elected President of Afghanistan is moving more and more towards the repressive Islamic laws of the Shia that we fought and cast out of that nation just three years ago.  The truth is that regardless of what environment you put these “fundamentalist Islamic” people in, ( And we shall witness this in all of Europe over the next 2.5 decades) They will overthrow and kill and repress into submission all that oppose Shia law.  It is commanded to be so everywhere in their Koran.  So unless they convert of become apostates both of which in the Koran are punished by death, -- those that follow Islam and obey the Koran can only kill, destroy, and oppress others into submission in the name of Allah – that would include their own and all those that are around them.  So this is not a slam against the President and this war, the best this effort can hope to do is to slow the militant edge of Islam.

AFGHANISTAN’S notorious Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which was set up by the Taliban to enforce bans on women doing anything from working to wearing nail varnish or laughing out loud, is to be re-created by the government in Kabul. The decision has provoked an outcry among women and human rights activists who fear a return to the days when religious police patrolled the streets, beating or arresting any woman who was not properly covered by a burqa or accompanied by a male relative.

“This is a very bad idea at a bad time,” said Sam Zia-Zarifi, the Asia research director of Human Rights Watch. “We’re close to the edge in Afghanistan. It really could all go wrong and it is alarming that the United Nations and western governments are not speaking out on this issue.”

President Hamid Karzai’s cabinet has approved the proposal to re-establish the department, and the measure will go to Afghanistan’s parliament when it reconvenes later this summer. The conservative (Fundamentalist Muslim) complexion of the assembly makes it likely to be passed.

“When we talk of ‘vice and virtue’ . . . the one introduced by the Taliban comes to our minds. But it won’t be like that,” insisted Mohammad Karim Rahimi, a spokesman for the president. “It will be an organisation which will work on promoting morality in society as exists in any other Islamic country.”

Nematullah Shahrani, the religious affairs minister who will oversee the department, claims it will focus on alcohol, drugs, crime and corruption. But critics point out that Afghanistan’s criminal laws already address these issues and say that once the department has been re-established, it will be easy to misuse.

“We are worried that there are no clear terms of reference for this body,” said Nader Nadery, of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. “It will remind people of the Taliban.”

“They haven’t even bothered to change the name,” said Malalai Joya, a courageous female MP whose outspokenness means she has to travel with bodyguards and move every day because of threats to her life. Joya, 28, was physically attacked in parliament in May after she criticised warlords.

“The situation for women in Afghanistan has not improved,” she said. “People in the outside world say Afghan women don’t have to wear burqas any more and yes, it’s true that in some provinces like Kabul, Jalalabad and Herat, women can go outside without a burqa.

“They can go and work in offices, and we have 68 women MPs. But more and more women are wearing burqas because of the lack of security. Look at the high rate of suicide among our women — Afghan women prefer to die than live because there is no security.

“In my opinion what we have in power under the mask of democracy are the brothers of Taliban — fundamentalists, warlords and drug lords,” she added. “Our country is under the shadow of their black hands. They are against women and re-creating the [department] is proof of this.”

Afghan women recall with horror the department’s religious police who ruthlessly enforced restrictions on women and men through public beatings and imprisonment under Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001.

Women were publicly beaten for wearing white shoes or heels that clicked; using lipstick; or going outside unaccompanied by a close male relative.

The department banned women from educating their daughters in home-based schools as well as working or begging, leaving thousands of widows with no means of supporting their families. They also beat men for trimming their beards, which had to be at least the length of a fist.

The repression of women was often cited in the West as a reason to intervene and oust the Taliban. Both the American first lady and the wife of the British prime minister made passionate speeches on the subject.

Laura Bush took over her husband’s weekly radio address in November 2001 to boast that “because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. They can listen to music and teach their daughters without fear of punishment”.

The sentiment was echoed in a speech by Cherie Blair a few days later at a meeting with Afghan women at Downing Street. “In Afghanistan if you wear nail polish, you could have your nails torn out,” she said, adding that the burqa, above all, symbolised the oppression of women.

“The women in Afghanistan are entitled, as women in every country are, to have the same hopes and aspirations as ourselves and our daughters: for good education, a career outside the home if they want one; the right to health care, and, of course, most importantly, the right for their voices to be heard.”

Yet almost five years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghan women are far from achieving these aims. In a new report, Lesson in Terror: Attacks on Education in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch identified the lack of access to education, especially for girls, as jeopardising the country’s development and security.

Increasing attacks on schools, teachers and students, as well as general insecurity — particularly in southern Afghanistan — are preventing children from attending school.

There have already been more attacks in the first half of this year than all of last year and according to a UN official, barely a day goes by without a school being burnt or teacher killed. As a result the majority of primary school age girls are not in school, and fewer than 5% of secondary school age girls are attending classes.

“Afghan women and girls face increasing insecurity, and it’s more important for the government to address how to improve their access to public life rather than limit it further,” said Zama Coursen-Neff, a senior Human Rights Watch researcher.

The government’s decision to re-create the Taliban religious police is seen by critics as the most shocking in a series of backward steps designed to appease conservatives. Last year, both Karzai and the international community turned a blind eye to the election of warlords and former Taliban to parliament.

Last month Karzai tried to introduce press censorship, though this met international resistance. He has also started allowing local commanders to re-create militia, although it was these that led to the emergence of the Taliban in the first place.

Such moves have prompted increasing disillusion with Karzai from the international community. “The way we are heading you have to ask what this was all for,” said one western diplomat.

Others blame foreign governments for a lack of commitment to Afghanistan, which remains at the bottom of most social indicators.

Both Karzai and the international community were shocked by riots in Kabul in late May that took more than six hours to bring under control and which highlighted public anger at a lack of development.

“We have to lift our game,” Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the Nato secretary-general, told reporters in Kabul last week. His visit was to finalise an expansion of Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which will see British troops in the southern province of Helmand come under Nato command.

“Nato is lifting its game in the south and hopefully soon in the east so that the whole of Afghanistan will be under the control of Nato-ISAF,” he said. “But the international community has to lift its game as well by also showing commitment to the government of Afghanistan.”

'Fierce' enemy

The Taliban has fought more fiercely than British troops were led to expect, the commander of Britain’s 4,800-strong contingent in Afghanistan has admitted.

Brigadier Ed Butler told reporters at a briefing in London: “We have been a little surprised by the ferocity and persistence of the Taliban.”

Six British soldiers have been killed in the operation since the beginning of June. “Hopefully it will not be too long before the tide does turn,” Butler said.

His remarks came as senior Nato commanders indicated that they would need more helicopters and men to expand the organisation’s mission across the entire country.

US General James L Jones, Nato’s supreme commander, said that plans were expected to be approved at a summit in November.

Yesterday coalition and Afghan forces killed 19 suspected Taliban fighters in Helmand province