Taliban security forces used a water cannon on Saturday to disperse women protesting the ban on women’s university education, eyewitnesses said, as the Taliban-led government’s decision continues to spark outrage and resistance in Afghanistan and beyond.
The development came after Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers on Tuesday banned female students from attending universities with immediate effect. Since then, Afghan women have been demonstrating in major cities against the ban, a rare sign of internal protests since the Taliban seized power last year.
According to eyewitnesses in the western city of Herat, about two dozen women went to the provincial governor’s house on Saturday to protest the ban, chanting “Education is our right” as they were pushed back by security forces firing water cannons.
Video shared with The Associated Press shows the women screaming and hiding in a side street to escape the water cannons.
One of the protest organizers, Maryam, said between 100 and 150 women took part in the protest.
“There was security on every street, every square, armored vehicles and gunmen,” she said.
“When we started our protest in Tariqi Park, the Taliban took branches from the trees and beat us. But we continued our protest. They increased their security presence. At around 11 a.m. they brought out the water cannon.”
There was broad international condemnation of the university ban, including from Muslim-majority countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, as well as warnings from the United States and the G7 group that the policy will have consequences for the Taliban.
A Taliban government official, Minister of Higher Education Nida Mohammad Nadim, first spoke about the ban in an interview with Afghan state television on Thursday. He said there was a need to prevent gender-mixing in universities and because he felt some of the subjects taught went against the principles of Islam.
He said the ban will apply until further notice.
Watch the Euronews report in the video above for more information.