Yesterday women in Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul, rallied together outside of the Presidential Palace and demanded that their rights be respected. It has been twenty years since the Taliban has last been in power and these protestors want to ensure that the progress they have made is recognized and that Afghanistan does not revert back to more conservative ways.
What are their chances of maintaining the freedoms they have had up until recently?
Do we see similar struggles in the United States?
The 30th of August was the last day American troops were on Afghanistan’s soil effectively ending the rule of the government the United States backed. Since then the Taliban has taken control of the country back but they say that they have changed. The twenty years that the U.S. was in Afghanistan for allowed women to make progress in a lot of areas like in education and careers. Now that the Taliban has returned there is uncertainty in how they will proceed in the area of women’s rights.
The government’s official spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid had this to say about the future for women in Afghanistan, “We would like to live peacefully. We don’t want any internal enemies and external enemies… There’s not going to be discrimination against women.” Leaders of the Taliban have stated that they will not oppress women, but they leave themselves a caveat in the form of religion. Like in the past they are building their leadership around Islamic law but as we all know that doesn’t guarantee anything. It is all about interpretation. Just take a look at Texas’s new conservative law banning abortion. It is a perfect example of how pro life movement supporters have successfully used Christianity and other religions to effectively limit women’s reproductive rights.
This is where we can look at things happening in the U.S. and see the similarities and differences between right winged extremists and islamic extremists. On the surface it seems as though these people would never get along because they both use hate filled rhetoric in reference to the others ideologies. But under the surface they have deep rooted similarities and I would guess that at this point their story could follow the enemies to lovers trope popular on cites like Wattpad.
Islamophobia has been a cornerstone of many alt right groups and supporters in addition to their other phobias: homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, I could go on. So it is a little confusing as to why the same people that spew anti-muslim trash have come out in support for the Taliban’s takeover. Far right extremists have been posting online on several message boards on social media sites how they respect the terrorist organization for their accomplishments. One commenter had the following to say about the Taliban’s return to power.
“They took back their government, installed their national religion as law, and executed dissenters. Hard to not respect that.”https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/09/03/far-right-america-taliban/
When I first started to read about this I was floored and it took me down a rabbit hole of research into just how similar the two entities are. What I stumbled on was that the Taliban and many U.S. far right extremist groups are startlingly similar. They are motivated by hate, justify their actions with religion, ar. If you took that sentence out of context and said it as a statement in class I would guess that everyone in the room would think you are talking about one of the many alt righters that stormed the capitol on January 6th.
I had never associated the two with each other or seen a connection because I am so used to their rhetoric be so against each other. But when you think about it objectively we have multiple of these groups on the U.S. terrorist watchlist. The big difference is we don’t have a terrorist organization as large as the Taliban with all of its resources. The only time recently that we’ve seen them be the most similar was the insurrection. If alt right terrorist organizations continue to grow or are emboldened women will have to stay vigilante in the fight for our rights.
Although the women facing this oppression are 7,048 miles away, they need our help now more than ever. We all need to choose to help any way we can so we are the ones to shape the future of feminism. The time for inclusivity in feminism is now, if we want a better future for ourselves we need to make all women’s futures better. NPR has compiled a list of organizations that are advocating for the women in Afghanistan please take a second to read it.
If you are interested in reading more about this, the following links are some of the articles I found while researching this topic. There are also a lot of really helpful videos on YouTube if you prefer it to reading.