Taliban rejects co-dining ban rumors

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From Mona Wardag

KABUL: The Taliban government in Kabul on Friday dismissed reports of banning men and women from dining out together in the western Afghan city of Herat, their spokesperson said.
“Some media outlets have reported that the ministry has put restrictions on families to have lunch or dinner together with female family members in restaurants and hotels. These are rumours and are not true but [are] part of baseless propaganda,” Suhail Shaheen said, quoting the ministry of promotion of virtues.
On Thursday, reports, quoting officials, said that the Taliban had banned men and women from dining out together and visiting parks at the same time in Herat.
The report, quoting an official at the Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Riazullah Seerat in Herat, said that authorities “have instructed that men and women be segregated in restaurants.”
He told media that owners had been verbally warned that the rule applies “even if they are husband and wife.”
One Afghan woman who did not wish to be identified said the manager told her and her husband to sit separately at a Herat restaurant on Wednesday.
The Taliban previously

promised a softer rule than their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001, which was marked by human rights abuses.
But they have increasingly restricted the rights of Afghans, particularly girls and women, who have been prevented from returning to secondary schools and many government jobs.
Earlier, authorities in Herat ordered driving instructors to stop issuing licenses to female motorists.