Kabul: Afghanistan’s supreme leader has ordered judges to fully enforce aspects of Islamic law that include public executions, stonings, floggings and the amputation of limbs for thieves, the Taliban’s chief spokesperson said.
Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that the “obligatory” command by Haibatullah Akhundzada came after the secretive leader met with a group of judges. Akhundzada, who has not been filmed or photographed in public since the Taliban returned to power in August last year, rules by decree from Kandahar, the movement’s birthplace and spiritual heartland.
The Taliban promised a softer version of the harsh rule that characterised their first stint in power, from 1996-2001, but have gradually clamped down on rights and freedoms.
Hudud refers to offences for which, under Islamic law, certain types of punishment are mandated, while it translates as “retaliation in kind” – effectively an eye for an eye. Hudud crimes include adultery – and falsely accusing someone of it – drinking alcohol, theft, kidnapping and highway robbery, apostasy and rebellion.
On several occasions the Taliban have also displayed in public the bodies of kidnappers who they said were killed in shootouts.
Rahima Popalzai, a legal and political analyst, said the edict could be an attempt by the Taliban to harden a reputation they may feel has softened since their return to power. The hard-won rights of women in particular have evaporated in the past 15 months, and they are increasingly being squeezed out of public life.
Most female government workers have lost their jobs, or are being paid a pittance to stay at home, while women are also barred from travelling without a male relative and must cover up with a burqa or hijab when outside the home. In the past week, the Taliban also banned women from entering parks, funfairs, gyms and public baths.