Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during an interview to the Associated Press in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, June 20, 2021. Karzai said the United States came to Afghanistan to fight extremism and bring stability to his war-tortured nation and is leaving nearly 20 years later having failed at both. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Kabul, Afghanistan – Former President Hamid Karzai in an interview with CNN defied the Taliban’s latest hijab policy, saying covering faces is not Hijab and the use of the Burqa is not Afghan tradition, according to sources.

This came weeks after the so-called Islamic Emirate government, in a formal decree under the Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, announced that it is “required for all respectable Afghan women to wear a hijab.”

“Burqa has come to Afghanistan probably 200-300 years ago, and countryside women don’t wear” it, said Karzai, adding Afghanistan has been a Muslim country for 1400 years and that the covering of the face isn’t Hijab but a tradition “in some countries, not Afghan tradition.”  

In contrast, the former president said Afghan tradition is a “huge chador, a huge scarf on the head,” and not the blue veil that covers women from head to toe.

When asked about the latest restriction of the Islamic Emirate on female TV presenters, Karzai said covering face has nothing to do with hijab not does on Afghan culture, adding it affected the country’s reputation.

“No, they shouldn’t because that has got nothing to do with Hijab- that has got nothing to do Afghan culture either. They (female TV presenter) should not obey this,” he said.

“The Taliban leadership must resent this decision, whoever made this decision. It hurts Afghanistan, it hurts Afghanistan’s reputation, and it is not Afghan at all.”

Meanwhile, the former president criticized the Taliban rule on closing girls’ school above sixth grade, saying it was an “unfortunate” decision about the girls’ schools and “hurt Afghanistan deeply.”  

“The issue of girls’ education is fundamental for the dignity of Afghanistan, therefore, there is no compromise, therefore the call is very clear on the Taliban government and the current government,” he said. “The Afghan people will never accept that decision. That the best for them and country is to have girls back to school as soon as possible.”

While the move draw a widespread criticism among local and international community on banning girl’s education, Karzai said “… I denounce it in the strongest word and want the Taliban to allow girls go back to school as soon as possible–tomorrow… and I could be stronger than that.” 

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Earlier The United States Department of States once again called on the Taliban government to reopen high school for girls in Afghanistan, saying “action” is rather needed than merely giving false promises. 

Following a CNN interview with the acting minister of Interior Sirajuddin Haqqani that was focused on reopening girls’ schools, the US Department of States spokesperson Ned Price said that Kabul has not fulfilled what it promised.

“We have heard these types of comments before, what we care much more about rather than rhetoric is action and we await Taliban acting on these positive signals and reopening schools at all levels across the country which itself would be a welcome development,” Price said, as local media quoted.

In March, the so-called Islamic Emirate government on a formal decree banned female students above grade six level from attending classes in across the country, which lead to a widespread concern and reactions.

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