May 27 2009
Responding to death threats from the Taliban, at least 10 girls’ schools have shut down near Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. Visiting the schools is a dangerous proposition.
When the deputy director of Aqtash High School talks of the government, he isn’t referring to Hamid Karzai’s central government in Kabul. Nor does he refer to the provincial administration in Kunduz. “The Taliban are our government,” Bashir says. “They have taken over our region, their commanders give the orders here.”
But now, the girls’ classrooms have been left to deteriorate. The desks and chairs are still laid out in neat rows, but a film of dust has collected, and Bashir stands helplessly in the middle of the room. “Parents in Aqtash are afraid to send their girls to school anymore, after the death threats,”
The tactics used by the Taliban are shockingly simple. Dozens of so-called “night letters,” which are affixed to the doors of schools in the dead of night, are piled on Muqim Halimi’s huge desk. Another threat letter depicts a schoolgirl at the gallows. “We have warned you,” reads the message. “If we now kill schoolgirls, you shouldn’t be surprised.”
Halimi is open in his description of the precarious situation the schools find themselves in. “There is no police there and even the army is afraid to go there,” he says. “What should I do, as a civilian, against the Taliban?” SPIEGEL
The Taliban have burned down over 125 girls schools in just one province of Pakistan, saying that women’s education is ‘un-Islamic.’
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