As the world marks 9/11, the Taliban flag is hoisted above the seat of power – The Journal

The Taliban hoisted their iconic white flag above the Afghan presidential palace in a low-key ceremony as the United States and the world marked the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The Taliban hoisted their iconic white flag above the Afghan presidential palace on Saturday, a spokesperson said, as the United States and the world celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The banner, adorned with a Koranic verse, was hoisted by Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the prime minister of the Taliban interim government, in a low-key ceremony, said Ahmadullah Muttaqi, head of the multimedia branch of the cultural commission of Taliban.

The raising of the flag marked the official start of the work of the new government, he said. The composition of the all-male, all-Taliban government was announced earlier this week and was met with disappointment by the international community who had hoped the Taliban would keep their earlier promise of an inclusive composition.

Two decades ago, the Taliban ruled Afghanistan with a heavy hand. Television was banned, and on September 11, 2001, the day of the horrific attacks on America, news spread by crackling radios through the dark streets of the Afghan capital of Kabul.

The city rarely had electricity and barely a million people lived in Kabul at the time. It took only two months for the US-led coalition to drive the Taliban out of the capital and on December 7, 2001, they were defeated, driven from their last stronghold in southern Kandahar, their spiritual heart.

Twenty years later, the Taliban are back in Kabul. America is gone, ending its “eternal war” two weeks before the 20th anniversary of September 11 and two weeks after the Taliban returned to the Afghan capital on August 15.

Some things have changed since the first period of the Taliban regime in the 1990s.

This time, the armed fighters do not roam the streets of the city in their vans. Instead, they slowly move through the chaotic and congested traffic of the city of over 5 million people. In the 1990s, in Kabul, controlled by the Taliban, barber shops were banned. Now, Taliban fighters are getting the latest haircuts, even though their beards remain intact in accordance with their religious beliefs.

But the Taliban have started issuing harsh changes that have affected women the most, such as banning women’s sports. They also used violence to prevent women demanding equal rights from demonstrating.

At an upscale women’s store in the city’s Karte Se neighborhood, Marzia Hamidi, a taekwondo competitor who aspires to become a national champion, said the return of the Taliban had shattered her dreams.

She was among the women attacked by the Taliban and labeled “agents of the West” in one of the recent protests. She said she was not surprised at America’s withdrawal.

“This year or next year, they finally had to leave,” she said. “They came for their own sake and they left for their sake. “

Hamidi hopes the Taliban will give in and relax their restrictions, but glancing at store owner Faisal Naziri, she said, “Most men in Afghanistan agree with what the Taliban are saying about women and their rules against them ”.

Naziri nodded, saying that preserving women’s rights is not a cause that will bring Afghan men to the streets.

On Saturday, the Taliban even orchestrated their own women’s march. This one involved dozens of women masked from head to toe, hidden behind layers of black veils. They filled an auditorium at Kabul University’s education center in a well-choreographed snub to the past 20 years of Western efforts to empower women.

Speakers read written speeches celebrating the Taliban’s victory over a West they accused of being anti-Islam. The women walked briefly outside the park in the center, holding up signs saying “the women who left do not represent us”, referring to the thousands who fled for fear of a Taliban crackdown on rights. women. “We don’t want diversity,” read another banner.

Outside the room, the director of higher education of the Taliban, Maulvi Mohammad Daoud Haqqani, said that September 11 was the day when “the world started its propaganda against us by calling us terrorists and calling us terrorists. blaming ”for the attacks in the United States.

In a dusty bookstore in Kabul’s Karte Sangi neighborhood, Atta Zakiri, a self-proclaimed civil society activist, said America was wrong to attack Afghanistan after 9/11.

He blamed the invasion that followed the 9/11 attacks for creating another generation of die-hard Taliban fighters.

“The Taliban should have been allowed to stay. Why haven’t we worked with them? Instead, they went to fight, ”he said. “And now we’re back to where we were 20 years ago. “

The iconic Taliban flag is painted on a wall outside the US Embassy compound in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (AP Photo / Bernat Armangue)

Afghan women walk past a closed beauty salon in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Since the Taliban took control of Kabul, several images of women outside beauty salons have been removed or masked. (AP Photo / Bernat Armangue)

A man walks down the stairs at dusk in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Felipe Dana)

Afghans eat in the streets in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Bernat Armangue)

A street vendor selling Taliban flags waits for customers outside the U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Bernat Armangue)

An Afghan woman walks into a beauty salon in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Since the Taliban took control of Kabul, several images of women outside beauty salons have been removed or obscured . (AP Photo / Bernat Armangue)

Afghans play games on a mobile phone outside their home in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Felipe Dana)

A boy walks into his home at nightfall in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Felipe Dana)

Vendors wait for customers outside their store in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Felipe Dana)

The iconic Taliban flag is painted on a wall outside the US Embassy compound in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (AP Photo / Bernat Armangue)

A boy carries water to his hilltop home in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Felipe Dana)

Vehicles pass a mural paying homage to the late founder of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar, left, and the late founder of the dreaded Haqqani network, Jalaluddin Haqqani, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Bernat Armangue)

A woman prepares dinner outside her home in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Felipe Dana)

Cars wait in traffic as Afghans shop at a local market in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Felipe Dana)

Taliban operatives prepare flags for a women’s march in support of the Taliban government at the Kabul University education center in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Bernat Armangue)

Women demonstrate in support of the Taliban government outside Kabul University, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Bernat Armangue)

Taliban fighters patrol an area during a women’s march in support of the Taliban government outside Kabul University in Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (AP Photo / Bernat Armangue)

A woman sits with her baby at the Kabul University Education Center during a demonstration in support of the Taliban government in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Felipe Dana)

Taliban fighters escort a women’s march in support of the Taliban government outside Kabul University, Afghanistan, on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (AP Photo / Bernat Armangue)

Taliban fighters escort women during a march in support of the Taliban government outside Kabul University, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (AP Photo / Bernat Armangue)

A woman steps down from the stage in an auditorium at the Kabul University Education Center during a demonstration in support of the Taliban government in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Felipe Dana)

Women stand in an auditorium at the Kabul University Education Center during a demonstration in support of the Taliban government in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Felipe Dana)

Women wave Taliban flags as they sit in an auditorium at the Kabul University Education Center during a demonstration in support of the Taliban government in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday September 11, 2021 (AP Photo / Felipe Dana)

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