Afghanistan | Men and women can eat together again in restaurants in Herat

(Herat) Men and women are once again allowed to eat together in restaurants in the city of Herat, in western Afghanistan, where the Taliban authorities had tried to impose gender segregation, a- we learned on Saturday from certain establishments.

Posted at 12:04 p.m.

“Restrictions have been lifted and restaurants can once again allow families to eat together,” Jawad Tawangar, a receptionist at a restaurant in Herat, told AFP.

An official from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Herat, Riazullah Seerat, told AFP on Thursday that the authorities had ordered that “men and women be separated in restaurants”.

He pointed out that the owners had been verbally warned of this measure, which applied even to those who are “husband and wife”.

Several restaurant managers and customers had confirmed to AFP that this segregation had begun to be applied in the city.

Taliban authorities on Saturday denied ever imposing such a ban. “This information is baseless and false, we completely deny it […] Never has such a thing been ordered,” said Mohammad Sadeq Akif Muhajir, the national spokesman for the Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, in a statement.

Afghans “can go freely with their families to restaurants, eat, drink tea […], there is no problem. These rumors are absolutely unfounded and false,” he insisted.

According to Tawangar, however, the Taliban had implemented the ban well, “which unfortunately caused problems for restaurants”, which had to apologize to many customers for not being able to let them eat together.

“For several days we couldn’t let families sit together and eat, but now the problem is solved and everything is back to normal,” confirmed Zia-ul-Haq, owner of another restaurant. of Herat.

Since coming to power in August, the Taliban have steadily curtailed women’s freedoms and imposed forms of segregation between the two sexes, in accordance with their ultra-rigorous interpretation of Sharia, Islamic law.

They had initially promised to be more flexible than under their previous regime between 1996 and 2001, when women were deprived of almost all rights.

But they quickly reneged on their commitments, largely excluding women from public employment, denying them access to secondary school or restricting their right to travel.

Last week, they also promulgated a decree requiring women to wear the full veil in public.

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