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Le Nouvel Observateur: You do not regret having fostered Islamist fundamentalism, having armed and advised future terrorists?

Zbigniew Brzezinski: What is more important for world history? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet empire? A few hot-headed Islamists or the liberations of Eastern Europe and the end of the Cold War?

Le Nouvel Observateur: A few hotheads? But let us say it once more: Islamic fundamentalism today represents a global threat.

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Nonsense. They say that the West ought to have a global policy for dealing with Islamism. That’s stupid: there is no global Islamism.

--Le Nouvel Observateur interview, January 15, 1998

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The Taliban ("students"), alternative spelling Taleban, is an Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan. It spread into Afghanistan and formed a government, ruling as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from September 1996 until December 2001, with Kandahar as the capital. However, it gained diplomatic recognition from only three states: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Mohammed Omar has been serving as the spiritual leader of the Taliban since 1994.


Talibanization (or Talibanisation) is a term coined following the rise of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan referring to the process where other religious groups or movements come to follow or imitate the strict practices of the Taliban.

In its original usage, Talibanization referred to groups who followed Taliban practices such as:

  • usually strict regulation of women, including forbidding of most employment or schooling for women;
  • the banning of long lists of activities generally tolerated by other Muslims—movies, television, videos, music, dancing, hanging pictures in homes, clapping during sports events;
  • the banning of activities (especially hairstyles and clothing) generally tolerated by other Muslims on the grounds that the activities are Western;
  • oppression of Shia, including takfir threats that they convert to Sunni Islam or be prepared to be killed;
  • aggressive enforcement of its regulations, particularly the use of armed "religious police";
  • the destruction of non-Muslim artifacts, especially carvings and statues such as Buddhas of Bamyan, generally tolerated by other Muslims, on the grounds that the artifacts are idolatrous or Shirk;
  • harboring of Al Qaeda or other Islamic terrorists;
  • a discriminatory attitude towards non-Muslims such as sumptuary laws against Afghan Hindus, requiring them to wear yellow badges, a practice reminiscent of Nazi Germany's anti-Semitic policies.
See also

Women and the Taliban

While in power in Afghanistan, the Taliban became notorious internationally for their treatment of women. The stated aim of the Taliban was to create a "secure environment where the chasteness and dignity of women may once again be sacrosanct," reportedly based on Pashtunwali beliefs about living in purdah.

Afghan women were forced to wear the burqa at all times in public, because, according to one Taliban spokesman, "the face of a woman is a source of corruption" for men not related to them. In a systematic segregation sometimes referred to as gender apartheid, women were not allowed to work, they were not allowed to be educated after the age of eight, and until then were permitted only to study the Qur'an.

Women seeking an education were forced to attend underground schools, where they and their teachers risked execution if caught. They were not allowed to be treated by male doctors unless accompanied by a male chaperone, which led to illnesses remaining untreated. They faced public flogging and execution for violations of the Taliban's laws. The Taliban allowed and in some cases encouraged marriage for girls under the age of 16. Amnesty International reported that 80% of Afghan marriages were considered to be arranged by force.

See also

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Taliban" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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