Afghanistan marks Ramadan, first since Taliban seized power

Afghanistan marks Ramadan, first since Taliban seized power
Afghans are welcoming Ramadan amid a worsening humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by the Taliban's takeover in August last year.
2 min read
Afghans welcome the holy month of Ramadan by offering Taraweeh prayers on Saturday in Kabul [Getty]

Afghans across the country broke their dawn-to-dusk Ramadan fast on Saturday as Afghanistan marked the Muslim holy month- the first since the Taliban seized power last year.

About 300 men, dressed in traditional Afghan shalwar kameez, gathered before sunset at the Wazir Akbar Khan mosque in the capital to offer evening prayers on the first day of Ramadan.

"This Ramadan is different than under the previous regime," worshipper Khairullah, who goes by one name as many Afghans do, told AFP.

"Now we are performing our Islamic duty together in an Islamic land under an Islamic regime".

The Wazir Akbar Khan mosque is one of Kabul's famous places of worship, and was targeted by a bomb attack in June 2020 that killed its imam and some worshippers.

The mosque is situated in central Kabul at the main entrance to the former diplomatic hub known as the Green Zone that housed several foreign embassies including Washington's mission.

After breaking their fast, the men sat in rows in the mosque's compound where volunteers served them food.

In the southern province of Kandahar, the de facto power centre of the Taliban, several of the fundamentalist movement's fighters broke their fast at checkpoints and mosques.

Afghans are marking Ramadan at a time when the country is plunged into a deep humanitarian crisis.

The United Nations says more than half of the country's 38 million people are facing hunger as the winter drags on.

The crisis deepened after donors cut off aid when the Taliban seized power last August.

The international community has so far not recognised the Taliban government.

"The people expected good times under the Islamic emirate but unfortunately that did not happen," said Shahbuddin, a resident of Kabul, referring to the Taliban regime.

"The world must recognise the Taliban government, otherwise we will see a humanitarian catastrophe".

Other nations insist the hardline Islamists respect women's rights to education and work in order to receive aid.

The Taliban have cracked down on women's freedoms, including banning them from many government jobs and shutting secondary girls schools.

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Meanwhile for Shahbuddin, the rising costs for food have become unbearable.

"For the first time I'm seeing that food prices have risen so much in Ramadan," he said.

"People were expecting that in an Islamic country prices would drop during Ramadan, but that has not happened".