All-Male Meeting Backs Taliban

Clerics, elders ask nations to recognize Afghan government
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 2, 2022 1:40 PM CDT
Clerics, Elders Ask Nations to Recognize Taliban Rule
Zabiullah Mujahid, left, the spokesman for Afghanistan's Taliban government, speaks during a press conference Thursday in Kabul.   (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

A three-day assembly of Islamic clerics and tribal elders in the Afghan capital concluded Saturday with pledges of support for the Taliban and calls on the international community to recognize the country's Taliban-led government. The meeting in Kabul was tailored along the lines of Afghanistan's traditional Loya Jirgas—regular councils of elders, leaders, and prominent figures meant to deliberate Afghan policy issues. But the overwhelming majority of attendees were Taliban officials and supporters, mostly Islamic clerics. Women were not allowed to attend, the AP reports, unlike the last Loya Jirga held under the US-backed government.

The former insurgents, who have kept a complete lock on decision-making since taking over the country last August, touted the gathering as a forum on issues facing Afghanistan. Mujib-ul Rahman Ansari, a cleric who attended the gathering, said an 11-point statement released at the end urges countries in the region and the world, the United Nations, Islamic organizations, and others to recognize a Taliban-led Afghanistan, remove all sanctions imposed since the Taliban takeover, and unfreeze Afghan assets abroad. Ansari said more than 4,500 Islamic clerics and elders who attended renewed their allegiance and loyalty to the Taliban's supreme leader and spiritual chief, Haibatullah Akhundzada.

In a surprise, the reclusive Akhundzada came to Kabul from his base in southern Kandahar province and addressed the gathering on Friday. In his hour-long speech carried by state radio, Akhundzada called the Taliban takeover a "victory for the Muslim world." Other nations have been wary of any recognition or cooperation with the Taliban, especially after they restricted the rights of women and minorities—measures that hark back to their harsh rule when they were last in power in the late 1990s. Saturday's 11-point resolution called on the Taliban government to pay "special attention and to ensure justice, religious and modern education, health, agriculture, industry, the rights of minorities, children, women and the entire nation, according to Islamic holy law." The Taliban adhere to their own interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.

(More Afghanistan stories.)

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