‘Damages our status’: Taliban warns fighters against fun activities, taking selfies

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The Taliban warned its fighters in Afghanistan against sightseeing at tourist attractions and taking selfies to post on social media, stressing that it damaged the group’s status, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Thousands of Taliban fighters were deployed to the capital Kabul after the group seized control of Afghanistan on August 15.

“When not on duty, they sightsee, picnic and visit amusement parks, in a tangle of guns and turbans. Taliban fighters from elsewhere in Afghanistan have also come to gawk at Kabul on tourist trips,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

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The Taliban government’s Defense Minister Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob scolded the fighters for their behavior.

“Stick to the tasks you have been assigned. You are damaging our status, which has been created with the blood of our martyrs,” he said.

He specifically warned fighters against taking selfies with Taliban leaders when they come across them and posting the pictures on social media as it betrays information about the location and activities of group members.

The minister also criticized the way Taliban fighters dressed, ordering them to bring their beards, hair and clothes into line with the group’s harsh interpretation of Islamic rules.

“Taliban men sporting shoulder-length hair, stylish clothing and mirror sunglasses and wearing Servis Cheetah white high-top sneakers are a frequent sight across Kabul,” the WSJ reported.

“This is the behavior of the warlords and gangsters of the puppet regime,” Yaqoob said, referring to Afghanistan’s US-backed government the Taliban overthrew. “If we continue to act like this, God forbid, we will lose our Islamic system.”

Since seizing control of Afghanistan, the Taliban have launched a charm offensive to rehabilitate their hardline image from their 1996-2001 era when they performed public executions, men who didn’t pray in mosques where whipped, women’s every day movements were restricted and an extreme interpretation of Islamic law, Sharia, was enforced.

However, it seems the Taliban are not changing much of their core values as Mullah Nooruddin Turabi said in an interview with The Associated Press that executions and amputations were “necessary” punishments to maintain security in Afghanistan.

Also, the Taliban’s morality police under the ministry of promotion of virtue and prevention of vice will act according to a “pocket handbook” of rules, the head of the ministry’s provincial office in Kandahar told The Guardian.

The rule book allows the use of force to enforce the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia. It dictates that women are only allowed to leave their homes when accompanied by a male guardian. Women’s contact with men should also be restricted to immediate close family.

The rules ordered compulsory prayers to be performed five times a day and had stipulations about beard length for men.

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