The Taliban orders the implementation of their interpretation of Sharia law in Afghanistan


The Taliban have ordered Afghanistan’s judges to fully impose their interpretation of Sharia law, including possible public executions, amputations and floggings, a move experts fear will lead to further deterioration of human rights in the impoverished country.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Afghanistan’s Supreme Leader Alaiqadar Amirul Momineen made the order “compulsory” after meeting with judges to “investigate the cases of robbers, kidnappers and seditionists”.

“Those cases that have fulfilled all the conditions of Sharia limitation and retribution, you are obliged to issue the limitation and retribution, because this is the order of Sharia…and it is obligatory to act,” Mujahid tweeted on Sunday.

Kaheld Abou El Fadl, a professor of Islamic law at UCLA and one of the world’s leading authorities on Sharia law, told CNN that there is a rich history of debate over Sharia law and various interpretations of its meaning.

“On every point of law you will find 10 different opinions… Sharia is very open,” he said.

Sharia law within Islamic jurisprudence means “the pursuit of divine will,” El Fadl told CNN. “Although it is common in both Western and native discourses to use Sharia interchangeably with Islamic law, Sharia is a much broader and more global concept, according to a statement on El Fadl’s website.

The Taliban’s hardline enforcement of the doctrine when the group was last in power from 1996 to 2001 included violent punishments including public executions, stonings, floggings and amputations.

Fadl said that within the 1,400-year tradition of Sharia, such punishments were rarely applied because most Islamic jurists throughout history did not interpret the law the way the Taliban do today. “The Taliban have a particular approach to Sharia that cannot be ignored,” El Fadl said. “Anyone who doesn’t fit their definition can be put to death.”

After taking power last August, the Taliban tried to project a more moderate image to gain international support, but in the months since, the group has clamped down on rights and freedoms.

Women in Afghanistan can no longer work in most sectors and need a male guardian to travel long distances, while girls have been banned from going back to secondary school.

Last week, women were barred from entering amusement parks in the capital Kabul after the Taliban’s morality ministry said women’s access to public parks would be restricted.

During the group’s first period in power, the Taliban banned most forms of music as un-Islamic, and this August, in an echo of the policy, Afghan folk singer Fawad Andarabi was dragged from his home and killed.

Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the United Nations secretary-general, told CNN that the Taliban’s recent announcement of Sharia law was “worrying.”

“Since they took over as the de facto authority, we expect them to fulfill their promise to uphold existing human rights commitments in Afghanistan,” Haq said. “They have not lived up to their commitments. We will continue to press them on this. We oppose the death penalty in all its forms.”

The security situation in the country has also deteriorated since the group took over last year, with the nation increasingly isolated and impoverished.

Almost half of the country is facing acute hunger, according to the United Nations. An estimated 43 percent of Afghanistan’s population lives on less than one meal a day, and 90 percent of Afghans surveyed reported that food is their primary need, according to a May report by the International Committee of Rescue

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