Afghan Woman Fired for Meeting Bush Uncovered

, Nov.2, 2002

KABUL, Nov 2 (Reuters) -- The Afghan Supreme Court has dismissed a female judge for not wearing an Islamic headscarf during a meeting with President Bush and his wife last month, government sources said on Saturday.

Marzeya Basil was among a group of 14 female government officials who attended computer and management courses in Washington at the invitation of the U.S. government and who met Bush and his wife, Laura.

Pictures of Basil and several other course participants standing with Bush without a headscarf were carried by world media.

The 44-year-old Basil, a mother of several children, was sacked days after her return to Kabul before the end of last month for not wearing her scarf during the meeting, said the sources, who did not want to be identified.

The decision for her removal was made by top authorities of the Supreme Court," one of the sources said.

The lives of women remain vulnerable and there are reports of killings of women by their family members in the name of morality. Despite interventions by local NGOs the authorities have looked away, and have taken no action to investigate such murders. Such gender-based impunity by any State is a clear discrimination of the right to life of women

Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur of the UNCHR
24 October 2002

Deputy Chief Justice and vice president of the Supreme Court, Fazl Ahmad Manawi, said he was unaware of her dismissal but urged Afghan women to observe the dress code at home and abroad.

Basil herself could not be reached for comment.

Some Afghan Muslim women have stopped wearing the coverall burqa required by the fundamentalist Taliban who were overthrown with the help of U.S. air power late last year.

The U.S.-backed government of Hamid Karzai has relaxed many of the Talibans more strict decrees, but some in the administration have opposed liberalization.

Karzais government includes mujahideen (holy warriors) who enforced strict dress codes for women themselves when in power before the Taliban takeover

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