Arab countries called on the government run by the Taliban to reverse its decision to impose a ban on higher education for women in Afghanistan.

The call came a day after the country’s Taliban rulers ordered women nationwide to stop attending private and public universities at once until further notice.

On Tuesday, the spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education, Ziaullah Hashemi, shared on his Twitter account an official letter calling on public and private universities to ban education for women.

The university ban comes weeks after girls took high school exams, despite being prevented from attending classes, since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

The move was widely condemned by governments around the world, including Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Saudi Arabia

In a statement, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “the Kingdom’s astonishment and regret at the decision of the Afghan caretaker government to deny Afghan women the right to university education.”

It called on the Kingdom of Afghanistan to retract this decision, which raises astonishment in all Islamic countries, and contradicts giving women Afghans have full legal rights, foremost of which is the right to education.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation said the decision jeopardised international efforts to engage with the Taliban in the interest of the Afghan people.

“The UAE reaffirms that this decision, as well as the earlier bans on girls from accessing secondary education, violate fundamental human rights, contravene the teachings of Islam, and must be swiftly reversed,” said the ministry in a statement carried by Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

Qatar

Qatar, expressed “deep concern and disappointment”. 

“These negative practices will have a significant impact on human rights, development, and the economy in Afghanistan,” Doha’s foreign ministry said. 

“As a Muslim country in which women enjoy all their rights, especially education, the state of Qatar calls on the Afghan caretaker government to review its decision in line with the teachings of the Islamic religion concerning women’s rights,” Doha’s foreign ministry added.

Bahrain

Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs also expressed, in a statement, “Bahrain’s deep concern and deep regret over the decision,” calling on “the Afghan government to review this decision.” 

Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also denounced the decision, calling on the Taliban to reverse it “for the sake of maintaining consistency between their promises and actual decisions.”

“Suspending access by female students to Afghanistan’s universities, OIC Secretary General Hissein Brahim Taha believes, will go a long way in seriously denting the credibility of the government in place, just as it will deny Afghan girls and women their fundamental rights to education, employment, and social justice,” the OIC tweeted.

By Shadab

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