'Women, life, freedom:' Defying Taliban, Afghan women remove burkas

The women, who were wearing headscarves, were being blocked from entering Badakhshan University for not wearing burkas.

 A member of Taliban speaks with female students outside the Kabul Education University in Kabul, Afghanistan, February 26, 2022. (photo credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS)
A member of Taliban speaks with female students outside the Kabul Education University in Kabul, Afghanistan, February 26, 2022.
(photo credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS)

The chant "Women, life, freedom," one of the central slogans in the protests sweeping Iran in recent weeks, has now been heard in Afghanistan as women protested against being blocked from universities for not wearing burkas on Sunday, according to footage shared on social media.

The women, who were covering their hair with headscarves, were being blocked from entering Badakhshan University for not wearing the specific burkas required by the university, according to BBC Persian. Students at the university had complained earlier for not being allowed to wear anything but black, according to Tolo News.

The protesting women were violently attacked by Taliban guards who were seen using whips and batons against the women in footage shared online. The protesters also chanted "education is our right."

 Waheeda Bayat, a 24-year-old student, stands outside Gawharshad University in Kabul, Afghanistan, February 24, 2022. (credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS) Waheeda Bayat, a 24-year-old student, stands outside Gawharshad University in Kabul, Afghanistan, February 24, 2022. (credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS)

Naqibullah Ghazizadeh, the president of Badakhshan University, confirmed to Afghan media that the Taliban had attacked students and that they were demanding full coverings for the women.

Radio Azadi, the Afghani branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, reported that Shir Mohammad, the head of the Department of Prosperity and Prohibition of the Taliban government in Badakhshan, had said that the attack was conducted by the university, not the Taliban government.

"The reason why the gate was closed and the girls protested was the performance of the committee of Badakhshan University, of course, after we heard about the demonstration, we sent two of our police officers there to advise and inform them, also we instructed the head of the police station to advise them to stop the violence and to solve the problem that was found by the university or by someone else," said Mohammad.

"From Kabul to Badakhshan, women stand up for justice, for humanity, for Afghanistan!" tweeted Fawzia Koofi, who served as a parliamentarian in the former Afghani government. "If we are observers of oppression and do not fulfill our responsibilities and obligations even to the extent of civil resistance, then we are partners in oppression. It will not be long before the scope of oppression will penetrate into our homes. Stand up for Afghanistan!"

"Every day for 8 years, I published a video of women inside Iran against the mandatory hijab and morality police, and many people insulted me. I can't turn a blind eye to Afghan women who publish videos every day for a year protesting against the ban on the right to education," tweeted Iranian activist Masih Alinejad. "Do not be afraid of being rejected. Be strong. We will break the wall of the Taliban and the Mullah."