Activists seek probe into British religious scholars’ visit to Afghanistan

A group of 50 activists has penned an open letter to the British government, calling for the prevention of a delegation of religious scholars from attempting to “whitewash” the Taliban.

The group which includes human rights and civil society activists, university lecturers and journalists has alleged that these scholars recently visited Kabul and tried to whitewash the Taliban approaches while ignoring the bad human rights situation in Afghanistan.

They have accused the scholars, primarily of Pakistani and Arab origin, of attempting to downplay ongoing human rights abuses in the country.

“On July 27, a group of religious scholars from the UK, mostly of Pakistani and Arab origin, traveled to Afghanistan under the backing of Taliban authorities and, conducting propagation [for the Taliban] under the guise of a truth-finding mission and [tried] to whitewash the Taliban’s continued cruel acts,” the letter said.

Meanwhile, a number of women’s rights activists have called for solidarity with Afghan women and girls.

Mariam Malrof Arwin, a women’s rights activist, said that countries like Britain and the international community “should take a firm stance against such actions if they respect human rights, especially women’s and girls’ rights in Afghanistan.”

The letter also urged British authorities to investigate such trips to Afghanistan.

According to the activists, the human rights situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated since the Taliban’s return to power, with Afghan women and girls facing gender-based discrimination akin to apartheid.

Inside Afghanistan, female university students who have been deprived of their right to education by the Taliban expressed their frustration, stating that the hopes and aspirations of Afghan women and girls are being crushed.

“The hopes and dreams that Afghan women and girls had are being crushed; they are losing their motivation and falling into depression,” said Nargis, a student.

This comes as some Taliban organizations including its foreign ministry had said that a delegation of British religious scholars traveled to Kabul in July, meeting with various Taliban government bodies to assess the situation in Afghanistan.

According to reports, the delegation had held meetings with the Taliban’s foreign, vice and virtue, justice and higher education ministers.