Taliban to segregate classes, says tweets on women ban are fake

Students attend their class after private universities were reopened in Kabul, on Sept 6, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

KABUL (BLOOMBERG) - An official with Afghanistan's Ministry of Higher Education said men and women will be segregated when university classes resume on Oct 9, after the Taliban and Kabul University disputed reports that female students will be temporarily barred.

"They'll resume their education in separate classes as planned," Mr Mohammad Edris, assistant secretary to the minister of higher education, said by phone from Kabul on Saturday (Oct 2).

Still, Mr Bilal Karimi - the Taliban's deputy spokesman - said women will be allowed to attend university only when a "pure Islamic environment" is created, without specifying the criteria for it or when it could happen.

Those comments echoed the content of a tweet published last week on an account purporting to belong to Kabul University's new Chancellor Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat, which both the educational institution and Mr Karimi said was fake.

"Women are not barred from education and they will be allowed to go to universities as soon as we create a pure Islamic environment, under which they should carry on their education," Mr Karimi said by phone on Saturday.

He said the Twitter account did not represent Mr Ghairat and "we don't know who runs it". Efforts to reach Mr Ghairat and the operator of the Twitter handle were unsuccessful.

The Twitter account had said female students will not return to Kabul University until "a real Islamic environment" is provided for all. Several news organisations, including Bloomberg News, cited that handle.

Kabul University said in a Sept 28 statement on Facebook that the Twitter handle was fake and misled the public.

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