Feminist Dissent statement in solidarity with Afghan women and all those fighting fundamentalism: Fear is their weapon, Courage is yours

Feminist Dissent views with horror and dismay the betrayal of the people of Afghanistan and all those fighting fundamentalist movements everywhere. Before and since the August 15th 2021 takeover of the country by Taliban, we have watched news of protest marches and heard Afghan women speak out. We are in awe of their steadfast courage in the face of brute force.

Feminist Dissent sees fundamentalist movements as modern political movements of the far right which use religion to exercise authoritarian control, especially over women. The Taliban was never seen by us as simply a form of medievalist Pashtun tribalism, and certainly not as a liberation movement. The dominant views from the ‘anti-imperialist left’, Western ‘peace’ movements, Western governments and counter-terror establishments converge in ways that both stereotype and sanitise the Taliban.

The deal struck between the US and the Taliban which excluded the Afghan government, civil society and particularly women, had a horrible familiarity. While on one hand condemning Islamist groups, Britain’s security establishment has played a central role in nurturing fundamentalists, promoting ‘talking to terrorists’ and designating some of them, including death squad leaders, as ‘non-violent extremists’, fit to run sharia courts and control the lives of Muslim women in the UK. 

The British Chief of Defence Staff Nick Carter’s claim that the Taliban want an ‘inclusive’ Afghanistan builds on the convenient myth that the Taliban are merely ‘tribal’, romantic men of honour who will keep order in the Badlands by controlling international jihadists so that they do not trouble Western capitals. Both US President Biden and UK Prime Minister Johnson share this view. It is a dangerous, racist, and self-serving fantasy.  For the people of the region across the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, the twenty-year war that started in December 2001 is not ending but is being continued by other means.

The Taliban began as a creation of the Pakistani military establishment and could not have succeeded without its backing. The movement’s goal is the subjugation of Afghanistan, the erasure of women from public space, and the destruction of every positive aspect of Afghan culture, both traditional and modern.  As Karima Bennoune, the UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights,  has said, “Afghan cultural rights defenders have worked tirelessly and at great risk…to reconstruct and protect this heritage, as well as to create new culture. Afghan cultures are rich, dynamic and syncretic and entirely at odds with the harsh worldview of the Taliban”.

The Taliban’s principal target has always been the Afghan people. During the shameful ‘peace talks’, women active in public life were targeted – judges,journalists and politicians faced attack and assassination. But the negotiators did not blink and pressed on with the deal, forcing the Afghan government to release 5,000 prisoners, with no assurances in return. Details of the forced surrender and betrayal of Afghans are still emerging, but it is clear that the Taliban agreed not to attack US forces, and to stop international jihadi networks from operating. In short, they agreedto become a US partner in return for rights to police the region.  

Male journalists and rights activists too have not been spared.  Among the most prominent was Dawa Khan Menapal, and the Indian photojournalist for Reuters, Danish Siddiqui. These targeted assassinations constitute war crimes, and are not ‘collateral damage’ as the Taliban have claimed. Alongside a public relations offensive of Taliban visits to Shia communities on Muharram, and reassurances to Hindus and Sikhs that they will be safe, there are reports of the torture and murder of the Shia minority, Hazaras, who are traditional targets of the Taliban. They are once again in danger along with other religious minorities. …


Noor’s case will be a test for the authorities and for Pakistani society in more ways than one

Pakistani professor Junaid Hafeez gets death sentence in blasphemy case

HAMNA ZUBAIR – Qandeel Baloch is dead because we hate women who don’t conform / When it comes to honour killing, India is neck and neck with Pakistan

Alia Waheed: Pakistan reckons with its ‘gender terrorism epidemic’ after murder of Noor Mukadam