Taliban authorities flogged seven men Wednesday for crimes including selling and consuming alcohol, an official said — the first such sentence to be handed out by Afghanistan’s courts since the hardline Islamists seized power.
The lashings were a grim reminder of the harsh punishments the Taliban delivered during their first regime between 1996 and 2001. The seven accused had confessed to their crimes and were sentenced to 35 lashes each, the Supreme Court said in a statement.
“The punishment was carried out today” in the capital, Supreme Court official Abdul Basir Mashal told AFP. “It is the first time that a court has issued such an order according to the sharia law since the Islamic Emirate was formed in Afghanistan,” he said.
Taliban fighters have reportedly carried out floggings without court orders since taking power, according to social media posts that could not be independently verified. The seven men had been charged in separate cases for offences such as selling and consuming alcohol, as well as stealing cars, the court statement said.
Five were also sentenced to six months in jail.
During their first stint in power, the Taliban earned notoriety for their strict interpretation of sharia law that punished even petty crimes with public floggings and executions. The rulings at that time were particularly harsh for women, with those who broke the rules suffering humiliation and public beatings by the regime’s feared religious police.
The Taliban had also carried out public executions, chopped off the hands and feet of thieves, and stoned women accused of adultery. When they seized power last year they promised a softer version of their previous rule, but insisted it would still be guided by sharia law.
Over the past eight months, the Taliban have cracked down on several freedoms women enjoyed for 20 years under the previous western-backed government. Women have been effectively shut out of most government jobs, and ordered to dress according to the Taliban’s strict interpretation of the Koran.
They have also been ordered to stop boarding flights unless escorted by a “mahram”, or adult male relative, and are banned from solo inter-city travel.