Saudi Arabia and Qatar urged the Taliban on Wednesday to reverse its ban on girls receiving a university education in Afghanistan.
In a Wednesday statement, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said it expresses “surprise” and “regret” at the Taliban-led government’s decision.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s astonishment and regret at the decision of the Afghan caretaker government to deny Afghan girls the right to university education, and calls on it to reverse this decision,” the ministry said.
It added that the Taliban’s move was “astonishing in all Islamic countries and is contrary to giving Afghan women their full legitimate rights, foremost of which is the right to education, which contributes to supporting security, stability, development and prosperity in Afghanistan.”
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Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a similar statement, saying the country “expresses concern and disappointment with the Afghan caretaker government’s decision.”
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stresses that these negative practices will have a significant impact on human rights, development and the economy,” the ministry said in a statement.
“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,” it added.
In a 2021 Women Peace and Security Index released by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, Afghanistan ranked last among 170 countries in terms of women’s inclusion, justice, and security. Saudi Arabia and Qatar ranked 102 and 97, respectively.
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Despite initially promising a more moderate rule respecting rights for women and minorities, Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers on Tuesday banned female students from attending universities effective immediately.
It was merely the Taliban’s latest edict cracking down on women’s rights and freedoms. The terrorist group has widely implemented their strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.
They have banned girls from middle school and high school, restricted women from most employment and ordered them to wear head-to-toe clothing in public. Women are also banned from parks and gyms.
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The Taliban were ousted in 2001 by a U.S.-led coalition for harboring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and returned to power after America’s chaotic departure last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.