Afghan Taliban orders students to wear turbans
Reuters, March 28, 2001
School student in Afghanistan

KABUL, March 28 (Reuters) - Religious police of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement have ordered all students across the country to wear turbans in class saying it was an Islamic tradition that must be followed, residents said. Religious police issued orders for students from grade one to six to wear black turbans and pupils in higher grades to wear white ones.

Residents in the capital, Kabul, said on Wednesday students who did not follow the instructions have been turned away from their classrooms since the start of the new school year on March 21.

Taliban officials said the policy was aimed for "better arrangement of education system," covering more than 1.6 million students in areas controlled by them.

They did not elaborate but the Taliban say wearing a turban is a tradition of Islam's Prophet Mohammad and should be followed by Muslims in an Islamic country.

The radical Taliban movement controls more than 90 percent of the war-ravaged country. The rest is ruled by the Northern Alliance opposition led by military commander Ahmed Shah Masood.

Wearing western clothes in educational institutions is already banned by the Taliban who swept to power in 1996 and immediately closed all schools for girls.

The Islamic militia says it opposes co-education and has no resources to build separate facilities for women. It has also banned subjects deemed un-Islamic such as sculpture and music.

The Taliban have often come under international criticism for their human rights record and treatment of women.

Earlier this month the Taliban were widely condemned for the destruction of all statues in the country, including ancient Buddhist carvings, on the grounds they were un-Islamic idols.

Children Missing Turbans Sent Home

AP, March 29, 2001

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Bareheaded students were sent home from school Thursday because they were not wearing turbans as demanded by the ruling Taliban, who say the headdress it is part of Islamic tradition.

The Taliban's reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, recently ordered all students to wear turbans after the third grade. The order took effect when the new school year began last week. Younger students are required to wear small caps.

"Wearing a turban is in keeping with the Islamic traditions of the prophet, who wore a turban,'' said Maulvi Mohammed Yunus Siddiqi, principal of Amani High School, who sent several bareheaded boys home.

With 2,200 students and 48 teachers, his boys-only school is one of the largest in the beleaguered capital.

"One hundred percent tomorrow I will have one. It is Islamic," said Ahmed Shamshed, a ninth-grader who wandered the war-scarred halls of his high school after he was ejected from class.

In poor Afghanistan, ravaged by relentless war and drought, a turban appropriate for students costs about $1.25. More elaborate head wraps can cost up to $15. The average monthly salary in Afghanistan is about $10.

The hard-line Taliban, which rule 95 percent of Afghanistan, have imposed a harsh brand of Islam. Schools are open only to boys. Girls attend school until they are 8 years old, and only to study the Quran, the Muslim holy book.

Women must wear a garment called a burqa, that envelops them from head to toe. Men must wear untrimmed beards and head coverings. Government workers are required to wear turbans, because the Taliban says it was the headdress worn by Islam's prophet Mohammed in the seventh century.

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