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Taliban fighters with guns in swan boots
Taliban fighters flocked to amusement parts in September after the group took powerImage: AFP/Getty Images/Wakil Kohsar

Afghan Taliban ban fighters from taking guns to parks

February 2, 2022

Taliban fighters will not be able to take weapons with them when visiting theme parks, a spokesperson says. The group has been working to promote a less aggressive image as it seeks more acceptance at home and abroad.


Fighters from the militant Taliban group now ruling Afghanistan have been told not to carry their weapons when visiting amusement parks and funfairs, a spokesperson said on Wednesday. They have also been asked to change into civilian clothing.

The move comes after the internet was flooded in September with videos and pictures of arms-toting Taliban fighters at leisure facilities and parks around the country following the group's takeover the preceding month — on pedal boats and bumper cars, or grabbing an ice cream while laying their rifles down for a moment.

"Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate are not allowed to enter amusement parks with weapons, military uniforms and vehicles," the main Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, said on Twitter. "[They] are obliged to abide by all the rules and regulations of amusement parks."

More moderate?

The images provoked much criticism amid concerns that other visitors might feel apprehensive at the sight of armed men wearing khaki in a place designed for entertainment. There were also concerns as to whether the grown men were suited to the rides and attractions.

"This equipment is designed for different weight categories, such as children and the elderly, but some armed people use it without thinking about the rules," a worker at Habibullah Zazai Park in the capital, Kabul, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Spanish EFE news agency.

Man carrying a rocked-propelled grenade standing on a pirate ship ride at Qargha Lake on the outskirts of Kabul
Such sights may well have put off other visitorsImage: AFP/Getty Images/Wakil Kohsar

The Taliban, who espouse a particularly rigid and severe interpretation of Islam, were frequently known to brutally enforce their version of what is moral and right when they last ruled from 1996 to 2001, before they were ousted by a US-led invasion.

Since returning to power, they have attempted to persuade fellow Afghans and the rest of the world that they have become more moderate in what is widely seen as a bid to regain access to international financial support amid a growing humanitarian crisis.

After years of conflict in the poverty-stricken country and the current dire economic situation, many Afghans see its amusement parks as a way to get away from everyday problems.

"We come here so that our children can have fun and are able to forget the problems at the moment," one of the visitors to Habibullah Zazai Park told EFE.

Taliban's return puts female judges at risk

tj/msh (Reuters, EFE)

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