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Afghan women are taking to the streets and leading the men in protests against the Taliban

One video shows a woman raising her fist and urging the men around her to move forward and keep marching.

Afghan women are taking to the streets and leading the men in protests against the Taliban
Cover Image Source: Twitter/@Dr_YKhan

Inspiring videos and photos from Afghanistan's Independence Day on Thursday show a number of brave women leading men in protests against the Taliban on the streets of Kabul. Chanting slogans and holding flags aloft, many marched in front of and alongside men on the 102nd anniversary of the 1919 treaty that ended British rule. One video shared by Iranian journalist, Masih Alinejad, shows a woman with the national flag draped around her shoulders, raising her fist and urging the men around her to move forward and keep marching. "Protest against Taliban in Kabul led by women. Yesterday Taliban opened fire at protesters and killed at least three people but today people took to the streets again to protest against the Taliban," Alinejad tweeted.


According to Sky News, protesters were waving their red, green, and black national flag as a symbol of defiance against the Taliban. Meanwhile, the Taliban — who have their own black and white flag — allegedly killed several people in the eastern city of Asadabad for waving the national flag. The insurgents are said to have celebrated Independence Day in their own fashion, considering the day a celebration of their victory over the U.S.


"Fortunately, today we are celebrating the anniversary of independence from Britain," they said of the commemorations. "We at the same time as a result of our jihadi resistance forced another arrogant of power of the world, the United States, to fail and retreat from our holy territory of Afghanistan." Some videos from the Independence Day protests in Kabul also showed women marching shoulder-to-shoulder with men while chanting "our flag, our identity."


"Independence day protest in Kabul. Women and girls, men and boys screaming LONG LIVE Afghanistan OUR NATIONAL FLAG IS OUR IDENTITY! They marched past the Taliban with some Talibs screaming back at protestors, waving their guns at them but finally the protestors passed," tweeted @jordan_bryon. "One angry Talib was about to shoot a protestor when another Talib grabbed his gun and stopped him. Incredibly daring #AfghanWomen led the way screaming on the megaphone!"


As of now, it is unclear whether Afghan women will be allowed to work or go to school under the Taliban's rule. Older generations still have traumatizing memories of the Taliban's previous rule, when they closed girls' schools, banned women from working, and largely confined them to their homes. Television and music were banned across the regions controlled by the group at the time and those caught violating these extremist rules were publicly executed.


According to AP, the restrictions on women eased after a U.S.-led invasion drove the Taliban from power in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Even as war raged across the country, a local commitment to improving women's rights drove the effort to create new legal protections, including the Elimination of Violence Against Women law which criminalized rape, battery, and forced marriage and made it illegal to stop women or girls from working or studying. Now, the series of recent Taliban victories over dozens of provincial capitals have taken Afghan women right back to a past they desperately wanted to leave behind.


At a news conference, Zabihullah Mujahid—the Taliban's longtime spokesman—promised that the Taliban would honor women's rights within the norms of Islamic law. However, he did not elaborate on what this means for Afghan women, what form the group's proposed "Afghan inclusive Islamic government" will take, or whether the new leadership will include women. Speaking to CNN, Farzana Kochai, who was serving as a member of the Afghan Parliament, expressed concern about her future freedoms as a woman. "This is something that concerns me more. Every woman is thinking about this," she said. "We are just trying to have a clue... would women be allowed to work and to occupy a job or not?"

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