UK Sharia Council scholar says we should 'give the Taliban a chance'

‘We should give them a chance’: UK Sharia Council scholar insists the Taliban have ‘grown up’ and says the Western media is ‘misrepresenting’ their views on women’s rights

  • Khola Hasan, from the UK’s Islamic Sharia Council, spoke on BBC Radio 4 today
  • Ms Hasan said posturing from the Taliban on women’s rights was a ‘good start’ 
  • She said if the west ‘gave them a helping hand… maybe they could progress’

Khola Hasan, from the UK’s Islamic Sharia Council, told BBC Radio 4 that the Taliban’s recent posturing on women’s rights was a ‘good start’

A UK Sharia Council scholar has said we should ‘give the Taliban a chance’ and claims that the media are ‘misrepresenting’ the Islamist group’s views on women’s rights.   

Since taking over Afghanistan, the Taliban have claimed they will not carry out any violence against women, and would not ‘seek vengeance’ on those who stood against them during the brutal 20-year war in the region. 

Fears over reprisal attacks and a return to the brutal rule of the jihadis have brought about deep unrest, with Western nations struggle to cope with the thousands of foreign nationals and locals trying to leave the country in the week since the Taliban retook power. 

But Khola Hasan, from the UK’s Islamic Sharia Council, told BBC Radio 4 that the Taliban’s recent posturing on women’s rights was a ‘good start’, and if western countries would ‘give them a helping hand… maybe they could really progress’.   

When asked about reports of women and children being beaten and whipped as they pass through checkpoints in Afghanistan, Ms Hasan said Afghanistan is a ‘tribal society with tribal loyalties’, with ‘a lot of violence within the communities’ amid decades of ‘occupation’.  

Ms Hasan said: ‘We have to be very careful not to take small, minor incidents and make them into something huge.’

She added that ‘western media loves misrepresenting Muslims’, telling Sunday morning listeners: ‘The kind of language that came out from Western media when the Taliban took over – civil war, monsters, they’re going to slaughter people, it’s going to be awful, poor women, oh blah blah blah we’re going to cry our eyes out, poor women are going back into Medieval times, and all the rest of it. 

‘It’s been misrepresented for so long that I’ve got used to it, I don’t even blink an eyelid anymore.’

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, August 22

Ms Hasan was told the world had ‘seen this movie before’, referring to promises to be compassionate and merciful following the sack of Kabul 25 years ago.

She replied: ‘No we haven’t because the Taliban have grown up, they were not exposed to the modern world, so what they were saying 20 years ago this was a myopic, insulated, small organisation, living in the mountains, very illiterate, very uneducated, not just about the world but about Islam itself…

‘They’re learning. That’s not an easy thing to do, to come from hundreds of years of one way practising your faith, and then suddenly exposed to different ways to think oh maybe we got it wrong. The problem is we don’t give them a chance.’ 

Her comments come after the United States and Germany told their citizens in Afghanistan to avoid travelling to Kabul airport, citing security risks as thousands of desperate people gathered trying to flee.

At least 12 people have been killed in and around the single-runway airfield since last Sunday, NATO and Taliban officials said. Some were shot and others died in stampedes, witnesses have said.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence said seven Afghans have been killed in the chaos around the airport. ‘Conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible,’ the ministry said in a statement.

The Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan has sparked fear of reprisals and a return to a harsh version of Islamic law the Sunni Muslim group exercised when it was in power two decades ago.

Crowds have grown at the airport in the heat and dust of the day over the past week, hindering operations as the United States and other nations attempt to evacuate thousands of their diplomats and civilians as well as numerous Afghans. Mothers, fathers and children have pushed up against concrete blast walls in the crush as they seek to get a flight out. 

The Taliban follow an ultra-hardline version of Islam. They have sought to present a more moderate face since returning to power, saying they want peace and will respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law.

When in power from 1996 to 2001, also guided by Islamic law, the Taliban stopped women from working or going out without wearing an all-enveloping burqa and stopped girls from going to school.

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