Afghanistan: October 6, 2001


Let's see now... The Taliban has so far banned; neckties (we should adopt this one), lipstick (ditto), television (not a bad idea, perhaps...), playing cards, public bath houses (though most of the population lack running water), chess, fireworks, statues, greeting cards, pictures of people or animals, high heels, keeping pigeons, musical instruments, cassettes, the internet, satellite dishes (fair enough), billiards, books published outside of Afghanistan, videocassettes (but only months later did they ban VCRs -- any idea what else they thought the VCRs could play?), dancing, Leonardo di Caprio haircuts (dubbed the "Titanic" by locals), kite flying! (it's "un-Islamic" apparently), movie theatres, toilet paper, marbles (the Taliban have lost theirs), brown paper bags (in case they have been made from recycled pages of the Koran), soccer, volleyball, laughing in public, applause (likewise), music (except religious chants) in shops, hotels, vehicles and at weddings and parties, failure to pray to Mecca five times a day (punishable by imprisonment), nail polish, informal education of women (home schools), men and women on the same bus, women are banned from working outside the home (except in the health sector, where they are kept separate from male colleagues), homosexuality (death penalty -- killed by having a wall bulldozed onto them, or being pushed from a hill supposedly --), women are banned from education, women are banned from picnics, women are banned from driving, women are banned from riding bikes or motorbikes, women are banned from appearing on the balconies of their apartments or houses, women are banned from traveling in a car without a male relative, women are banned from talking to males to whom they are not related, women are banned from playing sports, entering or joining a sports club, women must have an officially sanctioned reason to leave the house ("There are only two places for Afghan women- in her husband's house, and in the graveyard." said a Taliban leader!), women are banned from appearing in public without the burqa (a garment that covers them from head to toe, including a gauze veil, but since it was made compulsory there has been an increase in numbers of women killed by cars because of the lack of peripheral vision), women must wear soft slippers so they make no noise when walking, women must not wear white socks (why I do not know), treatment of women by male doctors (despite a drastic shortage of women doctors, given the ban on women's education), women must not deal with male shopkeepers, trimming or shaving of beards (a beard must be long enough to protrude from a clenched fist -- known as the "fist rule"), gambling, women washing clothes next to rivers or in a public place, women laughing loudly or talking loudly (no stranger should hear a woman's voice), bowing to people, illicit relations with women, public consumption of pork (for foreigners -- pork is banned for Afghans), public drinking (for foreigners -- alcohol is banned for Afghans), cigarettes, "walking naked", adultery (punishable by public stoning), anything made of human hair, cameras, new year celebrations, boxing, late afternoon sports, wearing shorts (they actually arrested a visiting Pakistani football team and shaved their heads as a punishment). 

The Taliban also suggested that people paint their ground-floor windows black (as if things were not bleak enough already) to stop prying eyes from seeing women inside. (from our correspondent in the Persian Gulf, T.W. Gideon) 


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