Herat (Afghanistan), Nov. 12 (Reuters): Afghanistan’s western city of Herat has reimposed a ban on wedding celebrations at restaurants, on the grounds that they encourage men and women to dance together.
Provincial governor Ismail Khan announced the ban at an official meeting shown on local Herat Television. “From tomorrow onwards, no restaurant has the right to allow the holding of wedding parties,” he said.
The ban was based on a decree from Herat’s 60-man Council of Scholars and Clerics. A member of the council explained the move via loudspeaker at the city’s main mosque on Monday night at a special prayer session to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramzan.
“Usually men and women mingle together in weddings at restaurants and occasionally dance together in some cases,” he said. “This is against Sharia (Islamic law) and must be stopped.”
The ban was first imposed by Khan four months ago after a young women burned herself to death when her parents told her they could not afford to hold her wedding party at a restaurant. Khan later reversed this decision after complaints.
Strict interpretations of Islamic law have been relaxed in many parts of Afghanistan since the fundamentalist Taliban regime was toppled with the help of US air power late last year.
But Herat’s religious council has issued a series of restrictive decrees.
In September, it banned women from visiting parks at night or wearing colourful clothing in public.
Khan recently came in for sharp criticism from the US-based Human Rights Watch for persecuting and detaining opponents.
The Taliban's religious police required women to cover themselves from from head to toe, including their faces, in shapeless traditional garments called burqas. Women were also prevented from doing most outdoor jobs and barred from education.
Afghan police fired into the air and used water cannons to break up a protest march by hundreds of students in Kabul today after up to four demonstrators were killed the previous evening.
Dozens of police in riot gear and carrying rifles surrounded a Kabul University compound and made several arrests after a crowd of over 500 students had been prevented from marching on government buildings, witnesses said. A student delegation met senior government officials at the education ministry in Kabul to try to resolve the standoff.