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Less than a month after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, the Islamic extremist group has announced the leaders of its interim cabinet, declaring the country an “Islamic Emirate.” The new cabinet appointments give Islamic hardliners key positions, some of whom are known for leading attacks over the last two decades.

Essentially, outlaws of the international community who have operated in the shadows over the last 20 years are now re-emerging as public government officials.

With this announcement, Afghanistan’s secret believers fear what’s next, says Open Doors’ communications director for Asia. “The Taliban stands for Shariah law in perhaps its most extreme form,” he explains. “These leaders have been appointed in the new cabinet; they were not chosen. And the reason these individuals were picked is because they adhere to the Taliban ideology.”

The new government is made up of senior Taliban leaders and includes no women—the opposite of the “inclusive government” the Taliban promised three weeks ago.

The absence of women from the cabinet isn’t surprising, given that the group appointed Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund as the country’s acting prime minister. Akhund’s edicts in the 1990s, adopted by the Taliban, included the banning of women’s education, enforcing gender segregation and the adoption of strict religious garb.

Akhund’s appointment is also serious concern for religious minorities in Afghanistan. His beliefs include the denial of civil rights for ethnic and religious minorities. He studied and adheres to a brand of strict Islamist ideology, known as Deobandism, which upholds global jihad as a sacred duty to protect Muslims across the world and is opposed to any non-Islamic ideas. Akhund is on a US blacklist and is seen as a religious influence in the Taliban.

Another notable appointment is Sirajuddin Haqqani, the new Acting Minister of Interior, a known extremist who’s part of the FBI’s most wanted list. He is reported to have a 5 million USD bounty on his head. Haqqani, is the head of the Haqqani militant group, which is among the most militant factions of the Taliban and has been behind some of the deadliest attacks in the last two decades, including a 2017 truck bomb explosion in Kabul that killed more than 150 people. The Haqqani network has been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the US and maintains close ties to al-Qaeda.

‘They will not protect Christians’

 A statement attributed to Taliban Supreme Leader Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada told the government to uphold Shariah law: “We want strong and healthy relations with our neighbors and all other countries based on mutual respect and interaction,” but the statement went on to say that the group would respect international laws and treaties “that are not in conflict with Islamic law and the country’s national values.”

 “It’s unthinkable that any Taliban leader would not act upon the movements of Islamist ideology,” our Open Doors source notes. “They will not protect women, they will not protect religious minorities and they will not protect Christians. In the words of a local believer: ‘The only one left to protect us, is Emmanuel—God with us.’”

The new Afghan government was scheduled to be inaugurated on the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, however the Taliban canceled the ceremony due to pressure from Afghanistan’s allies, including Russia, which, reportedly, refused to attend because of the controversial date. It is not known how long this new cabinet will serve the country. But the announcement of the acting cabinet is thought to be a major step in forming a permanent Taliban government.

After the cabinet was announced, a local Christian from the region managed to share this prayer with us:

Dear Lord,

While surrounded by the sounds and sights and smells of death, we find it hard to see the future. We find it hard to understand why these men of evil intent are the helm of affairs. The Bible says the Government is upon Your shoulders. But this government is evil. Lord, You change their evil intent. Lord what they mean for evil unto us, You turn it into good. Lord, may the hearts of believers everywhere pray for miracles and hope in this beloved and beautiful land. Help us Lord to love, to trust and to hope when it feels impossible. Amen.

 

Top photo: Taliban take photos In front of one of the exterior walls of the US Embassy in Kabul. Taliban fighters from different provinces of the country come to buy flags, which was covered with the Taliban flag on September 11. Photo by Oriane Zerah/Abaca/Sipa USA(Sipa via AP Images.

Photo with women: imb.org

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