Afghans call new Taliban leader's Eid message 'preposterous'

By Najibullah

Afghan civilians who lost limbs in militant attacks are shown in a hospital in Kabul July 10. [Najibullah]

Afghan civilians who lost limbs in militant attacks are shown in a hospital in Kabul July 10. [Najibullah]

KABUL -- New Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada has called for increased "sacred jihad", signalling that his group has no intention of shunning violence and changing its tactics in the country.

"Forget about ever subduing, defeating and forcing us to lay down our arms," he said in a recorded message July 2 ahead of Eid ul Fitr.

But for Afghan civilians, who have suffered the most from the militants' violence, the new Taliban leader's message is "preposterous".

Murdering Muslims without reason and making families homeless is not jihad; it is un-Islamic and inhumane, they say.

'Murder is not jihad'

"The Muslim people of Afghanistan are the victims of most attacks committed by militants," said Mohebullah, a Kabul resident who lost one of his legs in a militant bombing.

He said he knew of a family that lost all but one of its members, a five-year-old child, in militants’ suicide attacks.

"Murdering parents and orphaning children are not jihad," Mohebullah told Central Asia Online. "It really is painful, and there is no future for the aforementioned child."

Razieh, another citizen in Kabul, recalled with tears in her eyes a suicide bombing in Kabul that injured her several years ago.

"All of a sudden I heard a very loud and scary bang, and smoke and dust covered everything," she told Central Asia Online. "After a few moments, I realised that within 100 metres from me bodies of dozens of women, children and men, even old men with white hair, were covered in blood. It was truly a horrible scene."

"Those who consider such atrocities jihad must realise that Islam has never permitted such actions," she said.

Abdul Jabbar, an Afghan from Helmand Province, said he migrated to Kabul with his family due to the conflicts.

"What kind of jihad is this? The militants murdered my child and forced me and my family to migrate and to live in a tent in Kabul ... in misery," he said.

"When the leader of the Taliban calls for murdering the Muslim people and calling it jihad, this means he is either an illiterate individual who does not know anything about Islam or he is just pretending to be ignorant," Zabihullah, another Afghan citizen, posted on his Facebook page.

Haibatullah's message called ridiculous, insincere

In another part of the Taliban leader's message, Haibatullah said, "Every Afghan citizen has the right to enjoy all the rights and privileges in life, and their political and social prestige should be calculated based on their qualifications and piety."

Haibatullah urged his followers to avoid causing trouble for others and damaging infrastructure like hospitals, schools and bridges.

The Afghan public, however, scoffs at that part of his message, which he himself fails to obey.

"In previous years, dozens or perhaps hundreds of schools have been torched by the Taliban," said Mojtaba Rahimi, an Afghan citizen. "In the most recent case, all public facilities in Kunduz Province were burnt down by the members of this group."

"This is such a preposterous message, since Taliban militants have been destroying all public and governmental facilities in every area they ever entered," Rahimi told Central Asia Online.

Jabbar Rashtin, a resident of Kandahar, expressed doubt in the sincerity of Haibatullah's statement and in the willingness of Taliban members to actually follow his orders.

"When you travel from Kandahar to Kabul, you will notice that many bridges have been destroyed and many parts of the road have been damaged by land mine explosions and suicide attacks," he said.

"The message came too late," Javid, a civil society activist in Kabul, said. "Most bridges already have been destroyed either in fighting or willfully by this group."

"In recent months alone the Taliban have kidnapped dozens of passengers from cars," Ahmad Behruz, an Afghan security analyst, said. "They shot many of them, beat up many others and kept some as hostages. What does the Taliban leader call such actions?"

This is not the first time that the Taliban made such pronouncements, Behruz said, citing previous statements of peaceful intent by the late Mullah Mohammad Omar, an earlier Taliban leader who died in 2013.

"The militants' actions were completely contrary to their claims," he told Central Asia Online.

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