“Justice, justice! The burqa is not our (veil).” A dozen Afghan women demonstrated on Tuesday, May 10, most with their faces uncovered, in the streets of Kabul, to protest against the decision of the Taliban to make it compulsory for women to wear the full veil in public. These women managed to walk nearly 200 meters in the center of the capital, before being calmly stopped by Taliban fighters who also told the press to leave the scene.

The government issued a decree on Saturday, endorsed by the supreme leader of the Taliban and Afghanistan, ordering women to cover their bodies and faces fully in public. The Taliban made it clear that their preference was, in the name of “tradition”, to the burqa, this integral veil most often blue and meshed at eye level, but that other types of veil revealing only the eyes would be tolerated. They also felt that unless women had a pressing reason to go out, it was “better for them to stay at home”.

“We want to live like human beings, not like animals held captive in the corner of a house,” said one of the protesters, Saira Sama Alimyar. In the capital, the decree did not seem to be immediately followed by effect, many women continuing to walk the streets with their faces uncovered, or hiding them with a mask.

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