Why Are Afghans So Afraid of Taliban?

Chaos at Airport, Lives Lost in Fleeing Attempts

Afghan women residing in Barcelona attend a protest in front of the UN headquarters in Barcelona, Spain, 17 August 2021, to demand international action to protect women and children's rights in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. (EPA/Quique Garcia)
Afghan women residing in Barcelona attend a protest in front of the UN headquarters in Barcelona, Spain, 17 August 2021, to demand international action to protect women and children's rights in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. (EPA/Quique Garcia)

Why Are Afghans So Afraid of Taliban?

The Taliban entered the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday 15th August, following a week of rapid territorial gains from retreating government forces battling to hold off the Islamist militant group.

But what we saw after this is totally heartbreaking and terrifying! Desperate Afghans tried to flee the capital after the Taliban took power. A state of chaos and violence spread all over the country, especially at the airport. Five people died after trying to cling to the US air force plane.

To answer the question of why all this is happening, we should know first the history of this militia.

The Taliban, which means "students" in the Pashto language, emerged in 1994 around the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. It was one of the factions fighting a civil war for control of the country following the withdrawal of the Soviet Union and the subsequent collapse of the government.

Its ideology has been described as an "innovative form of sharia combining Pashtun tribal codes", or Pashtunwali, with radical Deobandi interpretations of Islam favored by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and its splinter groups.

During the period between 1996 and 2001, Afghanistan, which called itself an "Islamic Emirate", fell under the rule of the movement, and it witnessed extreme cases of violence against civilians, especially women, and public freedoms.

Following the Sept 11, 2001 attacks in the United States by al Qaeda, U.S.-backed forces in the north swept into Kabul in November under the cover of heavy U.S. airstrikes.

The Taliban melted away into remote areas, where it began a 20-year-long insurgency against the Afghan government and its Western allies.

Some acts Taliban did during its years in power 1996–2001:

  • According to a 55-page report by the United Nations, the Taliban, while trying to consolidate control over northern and western Afghanistan, committed systematic massacres against civilians. UN officials stated that there had been "15 massacres" between 1996 and 2001.
  • Taliban issued edicts forbidding women from being educated, forcing girls to leave schools and colleges. Women leaving their houses were required to be accompanied by a male relative and were obligated to wear the burqa, a traditional dress covering the entire body except for a small slit out of which to see.
  • Religious police forced all women off the streets of Kabul and issued new regulations ordering people to blacken their windows so that women would not be visible from outside.
  • Taliban imposed restrictions on modern education, banned female education and encouraged only Islamic religious schools and the teaching of the Quran. Around half of the schools in Afghanistan were destroyed.
  • They banned many recreational activities and games, such as football, kite flying, and chess. General entertainment such as televisions, cinemas, music, VCRs and satellite dishes were also banned.
  • In 1998, the United Nations accused the Taliban of denying emergency food by the UN's World Food Program to 160,000 starving people "for political and military reasons".
  • Several Taliban and al-Qaeda commanders ran a network of human trafficking, abducting ethnic minority women and selling them into sex slavery in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Time magazine writes: "The Taliban often argued that the restrictions they placed on women were a way of revering and protecting the opposite sex. The behavior of the Taliban during the six years they expanded their rule in Afghanistan made a mockery of that claim."
  • Afghanistan has had a rich musical culture, where music plays an important part in social functions like births and marriages and has also played a big role in uniting an ethnically diverse country. However, since coming to power and even after being deposed, the Taliban has banned all music including cultural folk music and has attacked and killed several musicians.
  • The Taliban have inflicted cultural genocide on the Afghan people by destroying their historical and cultural texts, artifacts and sculptures.
  • Public executions and floggings were common, Western films and books were banned, and cultural artifacts seen as blasphemous by the Taliban were destroyed.


Read more:

Taliban and the Future of Afghanistan: Reassurance Messages or Tactical Steps?

Will the Taliban Provide a Hub for Muslim Brotherhood?

Saudi Arabia Urges Taliban to Protect Lives Under 'Islamic Principles'

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