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Humanizing the Taliban does not erase their violence

Absurd images of members of the militant group eating ice cream and hitting the gym have appeared on social media.

Humanizing the Taliban does not erase their violence
Image Source: (R) AbdulhaqOmeri / Twitter (L) aemanbatool_ / Twitter

Trigger Warning: War and Violence Against Women

As the Taliban continue to take over Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, images and videos of members of the militant group have been uploaded to social media platforms across the internet. In these photographs, the members are seen performing "everyday activities" such as eating ice cream and enjoying themselves at a theme park. Many have claimed that these photos "humanize" the Taliban as more than "just terrorists." However, while the militants may be human beings, these images can do more harm than good as they camouflage the acts of violence the Taliban commit. Unfortunately, these photographs do not erase the violence they are responsible for.


In one photo uploaded to Twitter, members of the Taliban are seen posing with ice cream cones. One Twitter user reminds others, "Yes they are eating ice cream while they study the UN’s 'strongly-worded' letter demanding that they treat women and girls with respect. I’m not sure if this photo was taken before or after they dragged 10-year-old girls away from their homes…" Several reports of the violence women face under the Taliban regime have surfaced following the militant group's takeover of the Middle Eastern country.


Another bizarre video uploaded to Twitter shows several members of the Taliban enjoying the rides and other activities at an amusement park. The militants can be seen playing bumper cars, jumping on trampolines, riding carousels, and more. As theme park music plays in the background, the militants laugh and smile with rifles in their hands. Shortly after these videos appeared on social media, reports emerged that the Taliban had in fact burden down the theme park, the Bokhdi Amusement Park in Begha. It was allegedly targeted as the statues standing in the park were in public access. Idols are thought to be illegal in Islam by the terrorist group.


In yet another video, also uploaded to Twitter, the Taliban take control of a gym within the Presidential Palace. The members use the equipment, ranging from the ellipticals to the weights. What is most absurd is how one militant seems to be carrying a rocket launcher in his arms while casually strolling through the gym. Nonetheless, perhaps the video seems grotesque and ridiculous to viewers because the true violence of war and imperialism have, in many ways, entered the perceptible public space formerly monopolized by civilians. These videos force viewers across the world to confront the realities of the wars they fund and appropriate through their tax money and policies.


Little is known about how global leaders hope to handle the ongoing situation in Afghanistan. Most recently, the United States government announced they were holding "direct and daily talks with Taliban in an effort to ease Biden's Afghanistan crisis." The top United States commander in Afghanistan, Admiral Peter Vasely, has been leading the effort to negotiate with his Taliban counterpart to maintain security at the Kabul airport and ensure the safety of both Americans and Afghans hoping to escape. Sadly, the situation seems bleak.


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