Taliban order Afghan women to cover faces again

STORY: Afghanistan's Taliban government ordered women on Saturday to cover their faces in public…

A return to a signature policy of their past hardline rule and an escalation of restrictions that are causing anger at home and abroad.

A decree from the group's supreme leader said that if a woman did not cover her face outside her home, her father or closest male relative could face potential imprisonment or firing from state jobs.

The group says the ideal face covering is the all-encompassing blue burqa, which was obligatory for women in public during the Taliban's previous 1996-2001 rule.

Most women in Afghanistan wear a headscarf for religious reasons.

But many in urban areas such as Kabul do not cover their faces.

The Taliban has faced intense criticism from Western governments – but also from some religious scholars and Islamic nations, for limiting women's rights including keeping girls' high schools closed.

Nazar Qasemzada, a burqa seller in Kabul, requested that the Taliban be kind to their nation since the Afghan people have suffered a lot in the past 40 years.

The U.S. and others have cut development aid and sanctioned the banking system, pushing Afghanistan towards economic ruin.

The Taliban claims it has changed since its last rule.

However, in recent months, it has brought in regulations limiting women's movement without a male chaperone and banning men and women from visiting parks together.

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