Saudi Arabia, Turkey join outcry against Taliban barring women from university

Turkey and Saudi Arabia become the latest Muslim-majority countries to condemn a decision by Taliban authorities to bar women from universities, while about two dozen women have stage a protest in the streets of Kabul.

The country’s Taliban rulers earlier this week ordered women nationwide to stop attending private and public universities effective immediately and until further notice.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says the ban is “neither Islamic nor humane.”

Speaking at a joint news conference with his Yemeni counterpart, Cavusoglu calls on the Taliban to reverse their decision.

“What harm is there in women’s education? What harm does it to do Afghanistan?” Cavusoglu says. “Is there an Islamic explanation? On the contrary, our religion, Islam, is not against education, on the contrary, it encourages education and science.”

Saudi Arabia, which until 2019 enforced sweeping restrictions on women’s travel, employment and other crucial aspects of their daily life including driving, also urges the Taliban to change course.

The Saudi foreign ministry expresses “astonishment and regret” at Afghan women being denied a university education.

Previously, Qatar, which has engaged with the Taliban authorities, also condemned the decision.

In the capital of Kabul, about two dozen women march in the streets, chanting in Dari for freedom and equality. “All or none. Don’t be afraid. We are together,” they cry out.

In video obtained by The Associated Press, one woman says Taliban security forces used violence to disperse the group.

“The girls were beaten and whipped,” she says. “They also brought military women with them, whipping the girls. We ran away, some girls were arrested. I don’t know what will happen.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Higher Education says in a tweet that a news conference will be held this week to explain the move.

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