Abdul Baqi Haqqani at a loya jirga

The Taliban’s acting higher education minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani speaks at the podium during a consultative meeting on Taliban’s general higher education policies at a loya jirga in Kabul on August 29, 2021 AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images

  • The Taliban says women can attend universities under Taliban rule, but cannot share the same classes as men.

  • The Taliban’s education minister said the group wants to create a “reasonable and Islamic” curriculum.

  • The ruling militant group has said it will respect women’s rights in Afghanistan, but many are skeptical of its claims given the group’s history of suppression of women.

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Women in Afghanistan will be allowed to attend university “in safety,” as long as their studies are in line with the Taliban’s interpretation of Islamic law, said the militant group’s acting higher education minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani, per AFP.

Haqqani added mixed-gender classes would be banned, however. He made the comments Sunday at a loya jirga – a council gathering of tribal and faction leaders in Afghanistan.

“The… people of Afghanistan will continue their higher education in the light of Sharia law in safety without being in a mixed male and female environment,” he said, according to AFP.

He added that the Taliban are looking to “create a reasonable and Islamic curriculum that is in line with our Islamic, national and historical values and, on the other hand, be able to compete with other countries.”

Most schools in Afghanistan were already gender-segregated before the Taliban’s takeover earlier this month, and an estimated two-thirds of girls in the country do not go to school, according to Human Rights Watch.

When the Taliban was previously in power from 1996 to 2001, it barred women and girls from work and school. The group has claimed that going forward, it would respect women’s rights according to Islamic law and would not seek revenge on Afghans who used to work with its enemies.

But many are skeptical of the Taliban’s sudden change in tack. Afghan women say the group has not consistently followed through with its vows that girls can continue attending school. For example, Taliban members beat a rickshaw driver for transporting a female teacher who was traveling without a male chaperone, one woman told CNN.

In some regions captured by the Taliban, women and girls have already been stopped from going to school or leaving their houses without male escorts, reported The Guardian.

Thousands have tried to flee Afghanistan out of fear that the Taliban will reintroduce an oppressive regime, swarming the Kabul airport and trying to cram into planes departing the country.

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