Rustamzai, a heavily-built former kung fu and wrestling champion with a bushy black and white beard, was appointed by the hardline Islamist group to be Afghanistan’s director normal for sports activities and bodily schooling. As soon as the wrestling federation chief when the Taliban had been final in energy, Rustamzai then labored with the Western-backed authorities, earlier than falling out with them due to “their widespread corruption,” he stated.
‘We Won’t Ban Any Sport’
Wearing a black turban typical of the Taliban, Rustamzai repeatedly ducked questions on the difficulty of girls’s sports activities. Throughout the extremists’ brutal and oppressive regime from 1996 to 2001, ladies had been fully banned from taking part in any sport whereas males’s sport was tightly managed. Girls had been additionally largely banned from schooling and work.
Sports activities stadiums had been recurrently used for public executions. “We is not going to ban any sport, except it doesn’t adjust to sharia regulation… there are 400 kind of sports activities allowed,” Rustamzai stated.
Shortly after, he watched an illustration by younger Afghan males, some zooming round on curler blades, and waving the white Taliban flag. Rustamzai stated that abiding by Islamic regulation meant little change in follow in comparison with different nations.
“It doesn’t change a lot,” he stated, noting it will require, for instance, soccer gamers or Muay Thai boxers to put on “shorts a bit of longer, which fall beneath the knee”. Pushed on ladies’s participation, he stated he was nonetheless awaiting decrees from the highest Taliban management.
“We will think about the identical factor as in universities: permitting ladies to play sports activities, however individually from males,” one in all his advisors stated. However Rustamzai wouldn’t affirm that instantly.
New guidelines on universities permit for girls to proceed learning so long as they’re strictly segregated from males, and cling to a gown code of an abaya gown and niqab face veil. The curriculum may even be managed.
For now, the indications look bleak for girls. Final week, the deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural fee, Ahmadullah Wasiq, stated that it was “not essential” for girls to play sport.
“In cricket, they may face a state of affairs the place their face and physique is not going to be lined,” Wasiq advised Australian broadcaster SBS. “Islam doesn’t permit ladies to be seen like this.”
However the Taliban are already underneath stress, particularly for cricket, the place worldwide rules state that nations should even have an lively ladies’s crew to participate in Take a look at matches.
Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) chairman Azizullah Fazli later advised SBS Radio Pashto he was nonetheless hopeful ladies will be capable of play. “Very quickly, we provides you with excellent news on how we are going to proceed,” he stated. However Rustamzai distanced himself from the way forward for ladies’s sport.
“The opinions of our elders (senior Taliban) are essential,” he stated. “In the event that they ask us to authorise ladies, we are going to — in any other case, we is not going to. We await their announcement.”