Friday prayers in Afghan capital uneventful, see higher attendance

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Friday prayers were uneventful in the Afghan capital, with no Taliban gunmen seen guarding the entrances of mosques or enforcing dress code restrictions as they have in the past. Some mosques even saw higher numbers than normal in attendance.

The Taliban issued guidance to imams around Afghanistan on Thursday, saying they should use the weekly sermons and prayers to appeal for unity, urge people not to flee the country, and to counter “negative propaganda” about them.

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“The benefits of state should be explained to all,” a commission of Taliban monitoring religious affairs and mosques said in the guidance they circulated.

Kabul resident Jawed Safi was pleased to see the mosques secure. The Afghan government had previously posted guards at mosques to ward off attackers due to frequent bombings in the past.

“People were as normal, as in the past, but there were more of them,” Safi said, adding that there were “no restrictions so far.”

An imam in eastern Kabul, Bashir Wardak, said that Afghans should unite to stop the decades-long bloodshed. “Allah has ordered us to peace and brotherhood so we must get united,” he said.

Abdul Boghdi, another imam in northern Kabul, said that “people together should collect money to help those displaced.”

One attendee, Qasim Ahmadi, saw people wearing jeans attend prayers as usual. “There should be no restrictions on us, we are already Muslims,” he said. “The Taliban should aim for an inclusive government in order to be successful.”

Thousands of internally displaced people are living on the streets and in the parks of Kabul, with limited access to drinking water and food. Some reports indicate that their situation has worsened since the Taliban overran the capital, causing donors to shy away.

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