Afghan women protest after the expulsion of students from university dormitories

About 30 Afghan women protested outside Kabul University on Tuesday after authorities expelled students from dormitories allegedly for breaking the rules.

Protesters said all the evicted students were women in a move that comes as the Taliban increasingly restricted girls’ access to education.

“Today’s protest was for the girls who were expelled,” organizer Zholia Parsi told AFP after Taliban forces dispersed the demonstration.

Organizers also called for the reopening of girls’ secondary schools, which have been closed since the Taliban returned to power last year.

In several cities, women staged sporadic protests against harsh restrictions imposed by hardline Islamists.

Rallies are generally suppressed quickly, often harshly, and journalists have increasingly been prevented from covering them.

“Don’t expel us … education is our red line”, sang the demonstrators in front of the university.

The Higher Education Ministry said Monday that an unspecified number of students “who violated the university dorm rules and regulations” were expelled from their housing.

He didn’t say if they were all women.

In response to international pressure on girls’ education, Taliban officials said the closure of secondary schools was temporary, but they also came up with a number of excuses for the closure: from lack of funds to time to reshape the program according to Islamic lines.

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On Monday, Taliban supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada replaced the minister of higher education with a loyalist cleric, Neda Mohammad Nadeem, according to a government statement.

It was the second industry reshuffle in a month, following the appointment of a new education minister.

The foreign universities of the Ministry of Higher Education, while the Ministry of Education manages schools up to the 12th year.

Nadeem, former governor of the province of Kabul, held several key positions within the Taliban for years and was previously head of intelligence for the movement in eastern Afghanistan.

Nadeem’s personal views on girls’ education are unknown and it is unclear why his predecessor Abdul Baqi Haqqani was removed.

“Given his closeness to the supreme leader and his performance, he has been entrusted with key positions,” a Taliban official who worked closely with Nadeem on condition of anonymity told AFP.