An Afghan religious clerk in western Herat province has started a widespread campaign, urging women to wear Islamic Hijab – a large headscarf – and has ordered his followers to punish those who disregard it.

Mujeeb Rahman Ansari, a popular Islamic extremist and a religious clerk in the western Herat province installed dozens of billboards and signboards around the city, targeting Afghan women, urging them to wear Islamic Hijab.

During several public speeches, Ansari called on his followers to apply Sharia rules on anyone who disregards the rules determined by him and his followers and ‘not to wait for the government’ in such instances.

Abdul Qayoum Rahimi, the governor of Herat was earlier questioned by a local media outlet about Ansari’s movement in Herat province, wherein Rahimi said he is not going to confront Mawlavi Mujeeb Rahman Ansari as they are being good friends.

The recent statements of Mawlavi Mujeeb Rahman Ansari have sparked mixed reactions among Afghan residents in social media, some condemn the messages spread by Malwavi Ansari, while on the other hand, another group and individuals endorse him.

“Any man who thinks he has ownership of women is a coward. A real man is the one who considers his wife to be his counterpart, not a commodity!”, Waheed Omar, a government official tweeted in response to a billboard message by Malawvi Ansari where it says ‘A man is a coward whose woman disregard Hijab’.

Shabir Shirzad, a Facebook user seemingly connected to the Mujahideen sector has endorsed Mawlavi Mujeeb Rahman Ansari’s messages and has regarded them as ‘guidance’ that is needed for a community to survive in good.

But the provincial Directorate of Hajj and Religious Affairs said the campaign by Ansari has not been conducted in collaboration with the government, and that Ansari’s teachings go against Islam.

“Speeches by Mr. Mujeeb Rahman Ansari are in contravention of the religious teachings. Islam has always insisted on preaching,” an official of the directorate, Fazl Mohammad Hussaini said.

Mujeeb Rahman Ansari has studied ‘Islamic religion studies’ in Saudi Arabia and is currently running a local radio station beside being an Imam for Gozargah Mosque in Herat city.

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