In another chilling episode of imposed atavistic policies, Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban has directed all government employees to wear a beard and adhere to a dress code or risk being fired.
This was the latest of several new restrictions imposed by the hard-line Islamist administration.
Local media sources reported that representatives from the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice were patrolling the entrances to government offices on Monday to check that employees were in compliance with the new rules.
Following this new fiat, it would become illegal for employees to shave their beards, or wear local clothing consisting of a long, loose top and trousers, and a hat or turban.
The sources, moreover, claimed workers were told to ensure they prayed at the correct times, in strict observance of the Islamic tenets.
They were also told they would from now on be unable to enter offices and would eventually be fired if they did not comply with the mandatory dress code.
A spokesman for the public morality ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
Earlier, the Taliban had banned women from taking flights without a male chaperone and failed to open girls’ schools as promised.
On Sunday, it ordered parks to be segregated by sex, with women allowed to enter three days a week and men the other four days, including the weekend, meaning even married couples and families cannot visit together.
The Taliban administration has drawn criticism at home and from Western governments for forcing its extreme interpretation of Islamic law on all Afghans.
The Taliban said they would respect everyone’s rights in line with Islamic law and Afghan customs and that they have changed since their 1996-2001 rules when they barred women from leaving the house without a male relative and forced men to grow beards.
Wednesday’s u-turn on girls’ schools led to protests from the international community, including the United States, which pulled out of planned meetings with Taliban officials in Qatar, to discuss key economic issues.
The Taliban needs Western countries to lift sanctions that are crippling the Afghan economy.