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Taliban fighters stand guard along a street at the Massoud Square in Kabul. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Imaegs

In his first press conference from Kabul, a Taliban spokesperson said Tuesday the group would honor women's rights and an independent media, but within the "frameworks" of Islamic law.

The big picture: The Taliban's swift takeover has renewed fears that the group will return to the brutal grip it ruled with in the 1990s, when women's freedoms were severely restricted, other human rights were limited and executions were carried out in public.

  • The Taliban now insist they have changed, but will still rule Afghanistan within the norms of Islamic law.

What they're saying: "Women are going to be very active within our society, within our framework," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Tuesday, adding that women will be allowed to work and study "within our frameworks."

  • Repeatedly questioned on what that would mean in practical terms, Mujahid continued to give vague answers. "We are guaranteeing all their rights within the limits of Islam," he said.
  • Mujahid also said the private media will "remain independent" and impartiality is important, but stressed journalists should not work against "national values and national unity."

The Taliban's press conference on Tuesday came just hours after the group declared an "amnesty" and called on women to join their new government.

  • Mujahid repeated the amnesty declaration, saying, "We have pardoned all those who have fought against us. Animosities have come to an end."
  • "After 20 years of struggle, we have emancipated [the country] and expelled foreigners," he added. "This is a proud moment for the whole nation."
  • Mujahid also said he could assure the international community that "Afghanistan soil is not going to be used against anybody."

Despite the promises, many Afghans, especially women and those who worked with foreign organizations, rights groups and the international community, remain skeptical — pointing to grave human rights abuses committed by the Taliban in the past and in other areas of the country controlled by the militant group.

  • Thousands of Afghans stormed the runway at Kabul's international airport on Monday, hoping to flee the Taliban. The chaos forced the U.S. military to temporarily suspend evacuation efforts.
  • The U.S. resumed operations at the airport on Tuesday, with the hope of having at least one flight per hour take off from Hamid Karzai International Airport when operations are fully running. The Pentagon said it expects 5,000–9,000 people can be evacuated per day.

Go deeper: Afghan women and girls fear for their futures after Taliban victory

Go deeper

Oct 14, 2021 - World

Taliban press Biden to release frozen Afghan assets as economy shrivels

Afghans wait outside a bank in hopes of withdrawing cash, watched by a Taliban fighter. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty

With the Afghan government and economy starved of cash, the Taliban are pressing their claim to the roughly $8 billion in Afghan foreign reserves that have been frozen by the U.S.

Why it matters: Afghanistan is barreling into a humanitarian crisis, and donor countries and international institutions have cut off the aid that accounted for some 75% of the previous government’s budget.

U.S. elected to rejoin UN Human Rights Council after exit under Trump

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. has been elected to rejoin on the UN Human Rights Council, the State Department announced Thursday, three years after former President Trump walked out on the panel citing bias against Israel.

Flashback: The Biden administration announced in February it planned to rejoin the council, acknowledging what it called an "unacceptable bias against Israel," but arguing that being a member would help the U.S. advance its own interests.

Updated Oct 16, 2021 - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.