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Embolden Taliban Try To Sell Softer Image


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WestVirginiaRebel

?test=latestnewsFox News:

KABUL, Afghanistan – When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s, Maulvi Qalamuddin headed the Committee to Protect Virtue and Prevent Vice, the religious police that shut down girls' schools, beat up men with insufficiently long beards and arrested those in possession of music or video tapes.

Nowadays, the 60-year-old Taliban cleric is on a different mission: He is overseeing a network of schools that teach reading, writing and math to thousands of girls in his home province of Logar, an insurgent hotbed just south of Kabul.

"Education for women is just as necessary as education for men," Qalamuddin thunders. "In Islam, men and women have the same duty to pray, to fast -- and to seek learning."

The Taliban's restrictions on women and schooling, combined with support for Al Qaeda founder Usama bin Laden, turned the group into an international pariah even before the September 2001 attacks on America. Now, as the U.S. pulls out its troops and tries to negotiate a peace settlement with the insurgents, the international community grapples with a crucial question: If returned to power, will the Taliban behave any more responsibly this time around?

In recent public statements, the Taliban have made an effort to appear a more moderate force, promising peaceful relations with neighboring countries and respect for human rights. The big unknown is whether this new rhetoric represents a meaningful transformation -- or is merely designed to sugarcoat the Taliban's real aims.

"One might believe that they would change over time," says U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the day-to-day commander of the U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. "You see some messages that they might open their thinking a bit about women, a woman's place in society. But I don't know that I would bet on it."

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It's the kinder, gentler Taliban!dry.png


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How nice. Kind of like kinder, gentler SS storm troopers. Lt Gen Scaparrotti probably knows them a lot better than anyone in the Obama administration. Too bad he's not making policy decisions.

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