Afghan pres­i­dent apol­o­gizes for scarf re­mark

Tehran Times - - WOMEN -

Afghanistan’s Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani apol­o­gized on Sun­day for us­ing a word with which he wanted to de­grade male crit­ics of his govern­ment, but which many women took as an af­front and dis­crim­i­na­tion against the fe­male sex.

On Satur­day, re­spond­ing to ac­cu­sa­tions made by lo­cals, in­clud­ing some law­mak­ers, that top se­cu­rity in his govern­ment were aid­ing Daesh in Afghanistan, Ghani said those who make such al­le­ga­tions should ei­ther come up with proof be­fore the court or wear chador (a head­scarf worn by many Afghan women).

“Some in­con­se­quen­tial cir­cles in the coun­try are prop­a­gat­ing against a few govern­ment of­fi­cials which is base­less and is merely en­e­mies’ pro­pa­ganda,” Ghani said while speak­ing at a govern­ment-hosted event in Kabul on Satur­day.

“Who­ever claims that a high-rank­ing or mid-rank­ing of­fi­cial of the coun­try co­op­er­ates with Daesh, he must go to the courts and prove his claim, oth­er­wise he should wear chador.”

The com­ments drew a stern re­ac­tion from many women in ma­jor cities, some terming it as “dis­crim­i­na­tion against women,” some as an “af­front,” while oth­ers re­garded it as pro­ject­ing women as “in­fe­rior” to men.

The anger and crit­i­cism prompted Ghani to seek an apol­ogy in a state­ment on Sun­day.

“The pres­i­dent is a very prom­i­nent ad­vo­cate of women’s rights and has taken un­prece­dented steps to strengthen and pre­serve their po­si­tion dur­ing his ten­ure as the Pres­i­dent of Afghanistan,” a palace state­ment said.

“Un­for­tu­nately, some peo­ple have mis­in­ter­preted the pres­i­dent’s re­marks — try­ing to sway pub­lic opin­ion, us­ing the word ‘chador’ – scarf in English – in the pres­i­dent’s speech yes­ter­day.”

It fur­ther noted: “It is a com­mon say­ing which is never aimed to of­fend the highly valu­able place of women in the coun­try. Yet, if that in­ter­pre­ta­tion has hurt the feel­ings of women in our coun­try, the pres­i­dent ex­tends his apol­ogy.”

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