The Taliban spokesman on Tuesday mockingly responded to a question about whether their government would respect freedom of speech – telling the journalist to ask Facebook.
Zabihullah Mujahid, who has 310,000 followers on Twitter, was asked about the Taliban’s plan for freedom of speech.
‘This question should be asked to those people who are claiming to be promoters of freedom of speech who do not allow publication of information,’ he replied.
‘I can ask Facebook company.’
Zabihullah Mujahid, pictured on Tuesday in Kabul at his first ever news conference, shrugged off questions about whether the Taliban would respect freedom of speech. He pointed out that Facebook blocks their content
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid answers press members questions as he holds a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan
Facebook and other social media companies have been criticized for censoring conservative figures such as Donald Trump, who has been blocked since the January 6 Capitol riot, in response to concerns about stirring up violence.
Mujahid’s remarks were commended by Donald Trump Jr, who retweeted the 30-second video clip and said, ‘LOL … Also not wrong.’
A spokesman for Facebook said in a statement earlier in the day the company was going to continue banning content from the Taliban, citing the fact the State Department designated it as a terrorist group.
‘The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organization under U.S. law, and we have banned them from our services under our Dangerous Organization policies,’ the spokesman said.
‘We also have a dedicated team of Afghanistan experts, who are native Dari and Pashto speakers and have knowledge of local context, helping to identify and alert us to emerging issues on the platform.’
Twitter has been criticized for allowing Taliban figures to remain active on their platform, but the company said they were monitoring the situation.
Twitter said in a statement that it will ‘continue to proactively enforce our rules and review content that may violate Twitter rules, specifically policies against glorification of violence, platform manipulation and spam.’
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has had an active Twitter account since 2017
Trump was permanently banned from Twitter over the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6
Mujahid on Tuesday was asked what Taliban rule will look like.
He claimed ‘there is a huge difference between us and the Taliban of 20 years ago’, when female Afghans were beaten in the street or publicly executed, denied work, healthcare and an education, and barred from leaving home without a male chaperone.
During their press conference in the capital city, the Taliban insisted girls will receive an education and women will be allowed to study at university – both of which were forbidden under Taliban rule in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, before the US-led invasion.
The terror group also claimed they want women to be part of the new government after female Afghans staged a protest outside a local Taliban HQ in Khair Khana district, a suburb of north-west Kabul.
However, women and girls remain the most at risk under the new regime, with gangs in conquered areas allegedly hunting children as young as 12 and unmarried or widowed women they regard as spoils of war – ‘qhanimat’ – being forced into marriage or sex slavery.
The Taliban has also said women will have to wear hijabs but not burkas.
During the press conference on Tuesday, Mujahid did not detail what restrictions would be imposed on women, although he did say it would be a government with ‘strong Islamic values’.
Mujahid claimed: ‘We are committed to the rights of women under the system of Sharia. They are going to be working shoulder to shoulder with us. We would like to assure the international community that there will be no discrimination.’
The Taliban denied it was enforcing sex slavery, and claims that such actions are against Islam.
During the 1990s, the regime established religious police for the suppression of ‘vice’, and courts handed out extreme punishments including stoning to death women accused of adultery.
‘We are going to decide what kind of laws will be presented to the nation,’ said Mujahid.
‘This will be the responsibility of the government with the participation of all people.’