Taliban shuns Labour Day, deems it "communist"

AFP, May 1, 1999

KABUL, May 1 (AFP) - International Labour Day has gone unnoticed in the Afghan capital, with the Taliban Islamic militia deeming it to be a "diabolical" communist holiday.

"The communists used the Labour Day in such a manner that we find it disgusting," a foreign ministry official said.

The Islamic militia has in its ranks many former combatants who fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and until the overthrow of the communist regime of president Najibullah in 1992.

"It is because of these dirty communists that this day cannot be observed," another official in the ministry said.

People in Kabul went about their daily routine Saturday and one resident said the Taliban consider labour day as an "atheist, communist holiday" and so "totally diabolical."

They had to therefore ban it in the "pure" Islamic State they were trying to create.

The Taliban, who seized Kabul in 1996, have sought to impose a strict Islamic order based on a fundamentalist interpretation of the Koranic Sharia laws.

In the four-fifths of Afghanistan that they control, the Taliban have banned all non-religious holidays including Navroz, the traditional Persian new year, which used to be a major secular festival in the country.

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