Afghanistan’s Taliban fire shots into air to disperse women’s rally backing protests

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Taliban forces fired shots into the air on Thursday to disperse a women’s rally supporting protests in Iran over the death of a woman in the custody of morality police.

Deadly protests have erupted in neighboring Iran for the past two weeks, following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while detained by the Islamic republic’s morality police.

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Chanting the same “Women, life, freedom!” mantra used in demonstrations in Iran, about 25 Afghan women protested in front of the Iranian embassy in Kabul before being dispersed by Taliban forces firing in the air, an AFP correspondent reported.

Women protesters carried banners that read: “Iran has risen, now it’s our turn!” and “From Kabul to Iran, say no to dictatorship!”

Taliban forces swiftly snatched the banners and tore them in front of the protesters.

Defiant Afghan women’s rights activists have staged sporadic protests in Kabul and some other cities since the Taliban stormed back to power last August.

The protests, banned by the Taliban, contravene a slew of harsh restrictions imposed by the extremist group on Afghan women.

The Taliban have forcefully dispersed women’s rallies in the past, warned journalists against covering them and detained activists helming organization efforts.

An organizer of Thursday’s protest, speaking anonymously, told AFP it was staged “to show our support and solidarity with the people of Iran and the women victims of the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

Since returning to power, the Taliban have banned secondary school education for girls and barred women from many government jobs.

Women have also been ordered to fully cover themselves in public, preferably with the all-encompassing burqa.

So far the Taliban have dismissed international calls to remove the curbs on women, especially the ban on secondary school education.

On Tuesday, a United Nations report denounced the “severe restrictions” and called for them to be reversed.

The international community has insisted that lifting controls on women’s rights is a key condition for recognizing the Taliban government, which no country has so far done.

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