I was strolling down the aisles at Sam’s Wholesale Club one day about a year or so after leaving the church, and in the book aisle I noticed a book written by a woman from Afghanistan. It was obvious from the cover that she was Muslim. I picked it up and began looking it over as I do with any book that catches my interest. I turned it over to read the back cover and was instantly captivated by what I read. There written, was a list of rules imposed on women under the Taliban regime.
Of course, since it was Post- 911, all eyes were on the Muslim ways and on the terrorists- sympathizing countries, so a book such as this one would capture anyone’s interest, but my interest was more of one who could empathize. Smitten by the thought that I could identify so well with a woman who lived under such an oppressive religion, the idea to write about my own “oppressive religion” experience was born.
The pain and confusion of rejection and the realization that it was not going to change was something I was just beginning to accept, and I was still trying to filter what I truly believed from what I just “accepted” as truth. There it was– a clear correlation between a religion that controlled by terror, and the church to which we had been so dedicated. This was my defining moment. This was when I began to realize the full truth about the belief system to which we had become enslaved.
We were Baptists. We were proud of it. Being Baptist became as important an identity to us as being Christian. To employ the word “Taliban” would give one the immediate sense of oppression and devastation– a fitting portrayal in this case. The Taliban “lops off the heads” of the infidels—the ones who aren’t Muslim. This Baptist church “lops off the spiritual heads “—the foundations from where the faith of many were built. When the very ones who introduced them to faith in Jesus Christ become “spiritual terrorists” what is likely to become of their “faith”? You could say it is offended, sabotaged….even “beheaded”. So, I put the two together…….
The word “Taliban” actually means- to seek, a seeker of knowledge, but it has more recently come to mean-a seeker of religious truth. My “Baptist Taliban” church is similarly a “seeker of religious truth” that is very “religious” yet very far from the Truth.
The following is an article I copied from the internet that gives information about how women are viewed under the Taliban and some of the Taliban rules. It is important to note how many of the rules apply to women:
|The following list offers only an abbreviated glimpse of the hellish lives Afghan women are forced to lead under the Taliban, and cannot begin to reflect the depth of female deprivations and sufferings. Taliban treat women worse than they treat animals. In fact, even as Taliban declare the keeping of caged birds and animals illegal, they imprison Afghan women within the four walls of their own houses. Women have no importance in Taliban eyes unless they are occupied producing children, satisfying male sexual needs or attending to the drudgery of daily housework. Jehadi fundamentalists such as Gulbaddin, Rabbani, Masood, Sayyaf, Khalili, Akbari, Mazari and their co-criminal Dostum have committed the most treacherous and filthy crimes against Afghan women. And as more areas come under Taliban control, even if the number of rapes and murders perpetrated against women falls, Taliban restrictions –comparable to those from the middle ages– will continue to kill the spirit of our people while depriving them of a humane existence. We consider Taliban more treacherous and ignorant than Jehadis. According to our people, “Jehadis were killing us with guns and swords but Taliban are killing us with cotton.”|
Taliban restrictions and mistreatment of women include the: 1- Complete ban on women’s work outside the home, which also applies to female teachers, engineers and most professionals. Only a few female doctors and nurses are allowed to work in some hospitals in Kabul. 2- Complete ban on women’s activity outside the home unless accompanied by a mahram (close male relative such as a father, brother or husband).
3- Ban on women dealing with male shopkeepers.
4- Ban on women being treated by male doctors.
5- Ban on women studying at schools, universities or any other educational institution. (Taliban have converted girls’ schools into religious seminaries.)
6- Requirement that women wear a long veil (Burqa), which covers them from head to toe.
7- Whipping, beating and verbal abuse of women not clothed in accordance with Taliban rules, or of women unaccompanied by a mahram.
8- Whipping of women in public for having non-covered ankles.
9- Public stoning of women accused of having sex outside marriage. (A number of lovers are stoned to death under this rule).
10- Ban on the use of cosmetics. (Many women with painted nails have had fingers cut off).
11- Ban on women talking or shaking hands with non-mahram males.
12- Ban on women laughing loudly. (No stranger should hear a woman’s voice).
13- Ban on women wearing high heel shoes, which would produce sound while walking. (A man must not hear a woman’s footsteps.)
14- Ban on women riding in a taxi without a mahram.
15- Ban on women’s presence in radio, television or public gatherings of any kind.
16- Ban on women playing sports or entering a sport center or club.
17- Ban on women riding bicycles or motorcycles, even with their mahrams.
18- Ban on women’s wearing brightly colored clothes. In Taliban terms, these are “sexually attracting colors.”
19- Ban on women gathering for festive occasions such as the Eids, or for any recreational purpose.
20- Ban on women washing clothes next to rivers or in a public place.
21- Modification of all place names including the word “women.” For example, “women’s garden” has been renamed “spring garden”.
22- Ban on women appearing on the balconies of their apartments or houses.
23- Compulsory painting of all windows, so women cannot be seen from outside their homes.
24- Ban on male tailors taking women’s measurements or sewing women’s clothes.
25- Ban on female public baths.
26- Ban on males and females traveling on the same bus. Public buses have now been designated “males only” (or “females only”).
27- Ban on flared (wide) pant-legs, even under a burqa.
28- Ban on the photographing or filming of women.
29- Ban on women’s pictures printed in newspapers and books, or hung on the walls of houses and shops.
Apart from the above restrictions on women, the Taliban has:
– Banned listening to music, not only for women but men as well.
– Banned the watching of movies, television and videos, for everyone.
– Banned celebrating the traditional new year (Nowroz) on March 21. The Taliban has proclaimed the holiday un-Islamic.
– Disavowed Labor Day (May 1st), because it is deemed a “communist” holiday.
– Ordered that all people with non-Islamic names change them to Islamic ones.
– Forced haircuts upon Afghan youth.
– Ordered that men wear Islamic clothes and a cap.
– Ordered that men not shave or trim their beards, which should grow long enough to protrude from a fist clasped at the point of the chin.
– Ordered that all people attend prayers in mosques five times daily.
– Banned the keeping of pigeons and playing with the birds, describing it as un-Islamic. The violators will be imprisoned and the birds shall be killed. The kite flying has also been stopped.
– Ordered all onlookers, while encouraging the sportsmen, to chant Allah-o-Akbar (God is great) and refrain from clapping.
– Ban on certain games including kite flying which is “un-Islamic” according to Taliban.
– Anyone who carries objectionable literature will be executed.
– Anyone who converts from Islam to any other religion will be executed.
– All boy students must wear turbans. They say “No turban, no education”.
– Non-Muslim minorities must distinct badge or stitch a yellow cloth onto their dress to be differentiated from the majority Muslim population. Just like what did Nazis with Jews.
– Banned the use of the internet by both ordinary Afghans and foreigners.
And so on…
The progression down the road of regulation turns in to a slippery slope that is sure to end at the sinkhole. Why would anyone want to go there?
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Cindy Foster is “Mom” to eight gorgeous, talented, temperamental, noisy, opinionated, alike-but very different kids. She has been married to their daddy, Paul, for 34 years. Cindy blogs at Baptist Taliban and Beyond.
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce