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Taliban Decrees on Women and Culture in 1996.
Taliban Destruction of Buddha Monuments in 2001

A sample of Taliban decrees relating to women and other cultural issues, after the capture of Kabul, 1996

from "Taliban" by Rashid Ahmed (2000) Appendix.

(This translation from Dari was handed to Western agencies to implement; the grammar and spellings are reproduced here as they appeared in the original.)


Decree announced by the General Presidency of Amr Bil Mamf and Nai Az Munkar (Religious Police.)

Kabul, November 1996.

Women you should not step outside your residence. If you go outside the house you should not be like women who used to go with fashionable clothes wearing much cosmetics and appearing in front of every men before the coming of Islam.

Islam as a rescuing religion has determined specific dignity for women, Islam has valuable instructions for women. Women should not create such opportunity to attract the attention of useless people who will not look at them with a good eye. Women have the responsibility as a teacher or co-ordinator for her family. Husband, brother, father have the responsibility for providing the family with the necessary life requirements (food, clothes etc). In case women are required to go outside the residence for the purposes of education, social needs or social services they should cover themselves in accordance with Islamic Sharia regulation. If women are going outside with fashionable, ornamental, tight and charming clothes to show themselves, they will be cursed by the Islamic Sharia and should never expect to go to heaven.

All family elders and every Muslim have responsibility in this respect. We request all family elders to keep tight control over their families and avoid these social problems. Otherwise these women will be threatened, investigated and severely punished as well as the family elders by the forces of the Religious Police (Munkrat).

The Religious Police (Munkrat) have the responsibility and duty to struggle against these social problems and will continue their effort until evil is finished.


Rules of work for the State Hospitals and private clinics based on Islamic Sharia principles. Ministry of Health, on behalf of Amir ul Momineen Mullah Mohammed Omar. Kabul, November 1996.

1. Female patients should go to female physicians. In case a male physician is needed, the female patient should be accompanied by her close relative.

2. During examination, the female patients and male physicians both should be dressed with Islamic hijab (veil).

3. Male physicians should not touch or see the other parts of female patients except for the affected part.

4. Waiting room for female patients should be safely covered.

5. The person who regulates turn for female patients should be a female.

6. During the night duty, in what rooms which female patients are hospital-ized, the male doctor without the call of the patient is not allowed to enter the room.

7. Sitting and speaking between male and female doctors are not allowed, if there be need for discussion, it should be done with hijab.

8. Female doctors should wear simple clothes, they are not allowed to wear stylish clothes or use cosmetics or make-up.

9. Female doctors and nurses are not allowed to enter the rooms where male patients are hospitalised.

10. Hospital staff should pray in mosques on time.

11. The Religious Police are allowed to go for control at any time and nobody can prevent them.

Anybody who violates the order will be punished as per Islamic regulations.


General Presidency of Amr Bil Maruf. Kabul, December 1996.

1. To prevent sedition and female uncovers (Be Hejabi). No drivers are allowed to pick up women who are using Iranian burqa. In case of violation the driver will be imprisoned. If such kind of female are observed in the street their house will be found and their husband punished. If the women use stimulating and attractive cloth and there is no accompany of close male relative with them, the drivers should not pick them up.

2. To prevent music. To be broadcasted by the public information resources. In shops, hotels, vehicles and rickshaws cassettes and music are prohibited. This matter should be monitored within five days. If any music cassette found in a shop, the shopkeeper should be imprisoned and the shop locked. If five people guarantee the shop should be opened the criminal released later. If cassette found in the vehicle, the vehicle and the driver will be imprisoned. If five people guarantee the vehicle will be released and the criminal released later.

3. To prevent beard shaving and its cutting. After one and a half months if anyone observed who has shaved and/or cut his beard, they should he arrested and imprisoned until their beard gets bushy.

4. To prevent keeping pigeons and playing with birds. Within ten days this habit/hobby should stop. After ten days this should be monitored and the pigeons and any other playing birds should be killed.

5. To prevent kite-flying. The kite shops in the city should be abolished.

6. To prevent idolatory. In vehicles, shops, hotels, room and any other place pictures/ portraits should be abolished. The monitors should tear up all pic-tures in the above places.

7. To prevent gambling. In collaboration with the security police the main centres should be found and the gamblers imprisoned for one month.

8. To eradicate the use of addiction. Addicts should be imprisoned and investigation made to find the supplier and the shop. The shop should be locked and the owner and user should be imprisoned and punished.

9. To prevent the British and American hairstyle. People with long hair should be arrested and taken to the Religious Police department to shave their hair. The criminal has to pay the barber.

10. To prevent interest on loans, charge on changing small denomination notes and charge on money orders. All money exchangers should be informed that the above three types of exchanging the money should be prohibited. In case of violation criminals will be imprisoned for a long time.

11. To prevent washing cloth by young ladies along the water streams in the city. Violator ladies should be picked up with respectful Islamic manner, taken to their houses and their husbands severely punished.

12. To prevent music and dances in wedding parties. In the case of violation the head of the family will be arrested and punished.

13. To prevent the playing of music drum. The prohibition of this should be announced. If anybody does this then the religious elders can decide about it.

14. To prevent sewing ladies cloth and taking female body measures by tailor. If women or fashion magazines are seen in the shop the tailor should be imprisoned.

15. To prevent sorcery. All the related books should be burnt and the magician should be imprisoned until his repentance.

16. To prevent not praying and order gathering pray at the bazaar. Prayer should be done on their due times in all districts. Transportation should be strictly prohibited and all people are obliged to go to the mosque. If young people are seen in the shops they will be immediately imprisoned.

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In March 2001 the Taliban ordered the destruction of 2,000-year-old towering Buddha statues in Bamiyan province to stop worshipping of "false idols."

Published on Thursday, March 1, 2001 by Agence France Presse

Afghan Taliban Begin Destruction of Ancient Buddha Statues

KABUL - Ignoring an international outcry, Afghanistan's puritanical Taliban Islamic militia began demolishing statues across the country on Thursday, including two towering ancient stone Buddhas.

Taliban Minister of Information and Culture Qudratullah Jamal told AFP the destruction of scores of pre-Islamic figures, designed to stop the worshipping of "false idols," had begun throughout the country.

He said militiamen started wrecking the almost 2,000-year-old Buddhist masterpieces in the central province of Bamiyan, including the world's tallest standing Buddha measuring 50 meters (165 feet), after sunrise.

"The work started about five hours ago but I do not know how much of it (the two Bamiyan Buddhas) has been destroyed," Jamal said. "It will be destroyed by every means. All the statues are being destroyed."

He said Taliban soldiers were at "work" in the Kabul museum and elsewhere in the provinces of Ghazni, Herat, Jalalabad and Kandahar.

An edict announced Monday by the militia's supreme leader, Mulla Mohammad Omar, calling for the destruction of all statues in line with "Islamic" laws, has caused shock around the world.

Afghanistan is home to an array of pre-Islamic historic treasures from its days as a key stop on the ancient Silk Road and a strategic battleground for conquerers dating back to Alexander the Great and the Aryans before him.

The two massive Bamiyan Buddhas, carved into a sandstone cliff near the provincial capital in central Afghanistan, stand 50 meters (165 feet) and 34.5 meters (114 feet) tall and were built around the second century.

Appeals for their preservation have come from the United States, France, Germany, Thailand, Japan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Pakistan, Germany, Russia, India and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Koichiro Matsuura, chief of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said he had convened an emergency meeting of members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to try to stop the destruction.

"They are destroying statues that the entire world considers to be masterpieces," Matsuura said.

"And this is being done in the name of an interpretation of the Muslim faith that is not recognized anywhere else in the world."

But Afghan Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakel said the edict was irreversible. "Have you ever seen any decision of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) reversed?" Mutawakel asked.

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