Afghan officials acknowledged Saturday that a female judge was dismissed last month, because she appeared without a headscarf at a meeting with President Bush and the First Lady, according to Reuters. Judge Marzeya Basil, 44, joined 13 other female Afghan government officials in visiting the US on invitation by the US government to attend computer courses; however, she was removed from judgeship soon after returning to Afghanistan. Deputy Chief Justice and vice president of the Afghan Supreme Court, Fazi Ahmad Manawi denied knowledge of her dismissal, but advised that Afghan women heed the dress code within Afghanistan as well as overseas.
Despite the Taliban’s fall from power late last year, fundamentalists persist among members of the current Afghan government. Pressure from fundamentalist factions of the country have led to the re-establishment of the former Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue, which was charged with enforcing a strict interpretation of Islamic law, according to USA Today. Under President Hamid Karzai, the agency has been renamed the Ministry of Religious Instruction and proclaims to offer citizens guidance, without the use of violence to enforce religious law.
Still, further evidence of increasing hostility to women’s rights in the country has been mounting, with the attack of four additional girls’ schools last month, bringing the total known attacks to twelve over the last two months. Pamphlets and fliers found in the area of several of the attacked schools indicate that women’s rights in Afghanistan are at stake. In the most recent attacks, anonymous letters appeared linking the attacks to anti-US and anti-women’s rights sentiments in the country, according to the New York Times. Many of the attacks have occurred in the remote regions away from the capitol of Kabul, where there are no foreign peacekeeping troops and local warlords with US-supplied weapons rule.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week echoed statements by President Karzai and US Army General Tommy Franks, conceding that the “most serious challenge facing Afghanistan and Afghans today remains the lack of security,” reported theInter Press Service News.