In Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, mannequins were once a symbol of fashion and culture. But in the past year, shop owners have resorted to displaying them headless or covered in cloth, just to keep their stores open.
In August 2021, the Taliban announced that shop owners must remove the heads of their mannequins, or do away with them all together.
But several shop owners pleaded with the Taliban to let them keep their mannequins intact. The Taliban agreed, but on one condition — all mannequins must have faces covered.
One such shop owner is Faisal Azizi. Before coming to the US to study political science and government at Dartmouth College in March, he operated a family business selling traditional Afghan clothing.
Azizi told Insider that the Taliban forced locals to deface banners displaying photos of fashion models before trying to totally ban the use of mannequins.
The Taliban believe statues and images of the human form are forbidden, according to their strict interpretation of Islamic law.
But experts like Bahar Jalali, an Afghan-born professor of the history of modern Middle East at Loyola University Maryland, believes the move to deface mannequins is part of an extremist ideology to attack personal freedoms and to rid life in Afghanistan of any semblance of normalcy.
“Even under the most conservative Afghan regimes of the past, mannequins were part and parcel of the urban landscape,” Jalali, who fled Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion in 1979, told Insider, adding that the Taliban sees the figures of women as offensive and shameful.
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