Taliban orders shop owners to 'behead' mannequins as figures representing human form not allowed

Some shop owners tried to circumvent the order by covering the mannequins' heads instead.

Faris Alfiq | January 07, 2022, 11:14 AM

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Shop owners in Afghanistan were ordered to remove the heads of mannequins as according to the Taliban, figures representing the human form contravene Islamic laws, AFP reported on Jan. 6.

A video posted on Twitter on Jan. 3, which received more than 960,000 views at the time of writing, showed a shop owner in the city of Herat sawing off mannequins' heads.

The video also showed several mannequin heads on the ground that had been sawn off.

The head of the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice located in Herat, Aziz Rahman, confirmed the order, according to AFP.

"We have ordered the shopkeepers to cut the heads off mannequins as this is against the Sharia law," he said, as quoted by AFP.

And if shop owners decided to cover or hide the entire mannequin to avoid beheading them, he claimed that the "angels of Allah will not enter their shop or house and bless them".

Shop owners angered

The move angered shop owners in the city of Herat, which has a population of around 600,000.

To circumvent the order, some shop owners hid or covered the mannequins' heads.

One garment seller, Basheer Ahmed, questioned the move, "When there is no mannequin, how do you expect us to sell our products?"

"The customer likes it when the garment is draped properly over a mannequin," he added.

Restricting women rights

When the Taliban returned to power in August 2021, they pledged to "respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law", Reuters reported.

The militant group had also suggested "a softer" approach compared to their rule 20 years ago.

However, this was not upheld as the Taliban continues to enforce harsh versions of Islamic law.

On Dec. 26, 2021, the Taliban issued a directive for women in Afghanistan, saying that if they intend to travel long distances -- more than 72 kilometres -- they should only be offered transport if they are accompanied by a male relative, the BBC reported.

In addition to that, the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice urged vehicle owners to refuse women who do not wear head or face coverings.

Music of any kind are also banned in vehicles.

The move "shuts off opportunities for women to be able to move about freely," Heather Barr, Human Rights Watch associated director for women's rights, said, as reported by the BBC, which cited AFP.

The directive also restricted women from fleeing "if they are facing violence in the home," Barr added.

On top of that, AFP reported that most secondary schools are still shut for girls, and women are banned from working as government employees except in certain specialised roles.

Crackdown on vice

Other than restricting women's rights, the Taliban had been cracking down on vice in the country.

The Guardian reported that agents from the Taliban's General Directorate of Intelligence poured about 3,000 litres of liquor into a canal as they cracked down on the sale of alcohol.

The video also showed a religious scholar saying that Muslims need to abstain from making and delivering alcohol.

During the crackdown, three alcohol dealers were arrested.

The Guardian added that since the Taliban returned to power, there has been an increase in the occurrences of raids and crackdown operations on vices, including drug addicts, across Afghanistan.

AFP also reported that there had been orders for people to attend prayers five times a day and for men to grow their beards. 

The donning of "Western" clothing was also discouraged by the Taliban.

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Top image adapted via @QaderiHomeira/Twitter & AFP/Getty Images