Taliban security forces used a water cannon to disperse women protesting the ban on university education for women on Saturday, eyewitnesses said, as the decision from the Taliban-led government continues to cause outrage and opposition in Afghanistan and beyond.
The development came after Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers on Tuesday banned female students from attending universities effective immediately. Afghan women have since demonstrated in major cities against the ban, a rare sign of domestic protest since the Taliban seized power last year.
According to eyewitnesses in the western city of Herat, about two dozen women on Saturday were heading to the provincial governor’s house to protest the ban, chanting “education is our right”, when they were pushed back by security forces firing the water cannon.
Video shared with The Associated Press shows the women screaming and hiding in a side street to escape the water cannon.
One of the protest organisers, Maryam, said between 100 and 150 women took part in the protest.
“There was security on every street, every square, armoured vehicles and armed men,” 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. Around 11 am, they brought out the water cannon”.
There has been widespread 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.
An official in the Taliban government, Minister of Higher Education Nida Mohammad Nadim, spoke about the ban for the first time on Thursday in an interview with Afghan state television. He said it was necessary to prevent the mixing of genders in universities and because he believed some of the subjects taught violated the principles of Islam.
He said the ban would be in place until further notice.
For more watch Euronews' report in the video above.