Women in Afghanistan will be barred from playing sports under the Taliban’s rule, an official in the nation’s new administration has confirmed.
Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, told SBS News in an exclusive interview Wednesday that women and girls in the country won’t be able to play cricket or any other sport because such activities aren’t considered vital for them.
“I don’t think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket,” Wasiq said. “In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and bodies will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this.”
If allowed to take participate in sports, there will be “photos and videos” of the women that people will undoubtedly watch – something that cannot occur, Wasiq said.
“Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed,” Wasiq continued.
Wasiq told SBS Pashto last month that men’s cricket would be allowed to continue in Afghanistan, where the Taliban had given the OK for its national team to travel to Australia for a match in November.
But Wasiq’s remarks could potentially lead to the International Cricket Council to call off the friendly match in Australia since it requires all 12 of its members to have a national women’s team. Only full member teams can play in the test matches, the outlet reported.
Wasiq said the Taliban had no plans to adjust its hardline stance.
“Even for this, if we face challenges and problems, we have fought for our religion so that Islam is to be followed,” Wasiq said. “We will not cross Islamic values even if it carries opposite reactions. We will not leave our Islamic rules.”
Playing sports would undoubtedly lead to women being “exposed” and “Islam does not allow that,” Wasiq said.
Australia’s sports minister, Richard Colbeck, said the report was “deeply concerning” while urging the International Cricket Council to take action.
“Excluding women from sport at any level is unacceptable,” Colbeck told SBS News in a statement.
“We urge international sport authorities, including the International Cricket Council, to take a stand against this appalling ruling,” Colbeck said. “The Taliban’s attitudes towards women and their individual rights should not be accepted by the international sporting community.”
Cricket Australia, the sport’s governing body in the nation, told SBS News that it’s monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and the upcoming tour of the Afghanistan men’s national cricket team.
“Our vision for cricket is that is a sport for all,” a Cricket Australia spokeswoman said in a statement. “And we continue to support the game unequivocally for women and men at every level of the game.”
The Taliban announced its all-male interim government on Tuesday, which was noted by US State Department officials in a statement that also warned of the “affiliations and track records” of some of the men who were appointed.
Among them was Acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is on the FBI’s most-wanted list with a $5 million bounty on his head and is believed to still be holding at least one American hostage.
“The world is watching closely,” the State Department said Tuesday.