The official Taliban website has published an article criticising an art project in which 10,000 pink balloons were given away for free in Kabul, saying the event encouraged un-Islamic behaviour.
Under the headline “Was it a balloon show or a mini-skirt show?”, the piece said that the conceptual artwork was a trick to promote Western values among the young Afghan volunteers who helped hand out the balloons.
“The West is using different techniques to promote their culture in Afghanistan. Sometimes they do it in an undercover way,” the author, Qari Habib, wrote in Pashto in the critique published on Sunday.
“Some girls were without headscarves, with tight jeans and tops on, and even with mini-skirts on the streets. The boys were also dressed in Western-style outfits.
“After distributing some balloons, they wandered around Kabul aiming to break the culture of hijab.”
Hijab is the culture of modesty in Islam and covers conduct and dress codes for males and females.
On Saturday morning – the start of the Afghan working week – 100 volunteers distributed the neon-pink “peace” balloons to surprised workers, families and shoppers.
‘War on values’
Yazmany Arboleda, a 31-year-old artist from New York who organised the event, said the project was designed to highlight young Afghans’ creativity and sense of fun in a city wrecked by decades of war.
Called “We Believe In Balloons”, it was paid for by individuals and groups around the world sponsoring each balloon for $1.
“The West wanted to smuggle in its culture through this programme,” Habib wrote on the Voice of Jihad website. “It was obvious that the main goal was to break the culture of covering in women.
“The war on our religious values, modesty and hijab is ongoing under different names such as women skiing, wrestling, fashion shows and balloons.”
The continuing insurgent threat in Kabul was underlined as the balloons were being distributed when a suicide bomber killed himself elsewhere in the city while he was preparing his explosives.