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Afghans Decorating Their Cars with Quran Verses to Avoid Taliban Wrath

BULENT KILIC/AFP via Getty Images
BULENT KILIC/AFP via Getty Images

The Afghan news organization Pajhwok reported Wednesday that drivers throughout Afghanistan are attempting to remain in the good graces of the repressive Taliban by frantically decorating their cars with Quranic verses and affirmations of the Islamic faith.

The Taliban is nearing the one-year anniversary of ousting the former government of Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, after leftist President Joe Biden violated an agreement with the Sunni terrorist group to extend the already 20-year war in the country. Pushing back the American withdrawal deadline from May to September and then moving it up to August prompted Taliban leaders to declare that they would no longer consider themselves bound by the agreement, which required them to cooperate with the U.S.-backed government. Then-President Ashraf Ghani fled the country immediately after reports surfaced of Taliban leaders reaching the city limits of Kabul, the national capital.

Taliban leaders initially promised to establish an “inclusive” and tolerant government upon seizing power but have largely abandoned that image, instead imposing its fundamentalist interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law, nationwide. Afghans must now contend with, among other repressive tactics, regular harassment from Taliban representatives of the “Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” bans on women leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary, a soft burqa mandate, and limitations on businesses that the Taliban considers haram.

The Taliban rule has also resulted in a chilling effect on secular displays generally. As Pajhwok detailed on Wednesday, prior to August 2021, drivers often used flowers or secular poems to decorate their cars. While the Taliban has not overtly banned displays of innocuous items such as flowers, many are choosing to replace them with expressions of Islamic devotion in the hopes of not falling victim to Taliban repression.

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