Taliban punish 40 for clothing, beard law violations

KABUL, June 28,1998 (AFP) - Taliban anti-vice squads touring the Afghan capital have dealt on the spot punishments to 40 violators of their strict style rules on beards and clothing, official radio announced Sunday.

The hardline Islamic militia's mouthpiece said the mobile teams of the ministry for the fostering of virtue and prevention of vice nabbed 13 residents of the once-liberal capital who had trimmed their beards.

It also said 27 locals "whose appearance did not suit Islamic Shariat" were also punished, a reference to violators of their ban on western-style clothing and fashionable haircuts.

However many residents here have noted that with most Taliban anti-vice squads made up of fighters from poor rural areas of the country or refugee camps, anyone caught neatly groomed or cleanly dressed are targetted.

Punishment usually consists of a quick on the spot beating with a rubber hose, and are dealt out by militiamen who leap out from the back of four-wheel drive pick-ups cruising the streets of the war-shattered city.

Since seizing the Afghan capital in September 1996, the Taliban have imposed what they say is the only pure example of an Islamic state.

In that period state-run radio has announced the punishment or arrest of more than 2,000 residents caught violating the tough facial hair law alone.

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