Afghanistan clerics protest first woman judge for Supreme Court

Members of an influential Islamic panel in Afghanistan have protested against President Ashraf Ghani’s nomination of a woman to the Supreme Court, a milestone appointment in a country where the Taliban once banned women from most areas of public life.  (Reuters, June 19th, 2015) 

Mr Ghani’s decision last week delivered on an election promise to appoint the first woman to the Supreme Court, but conservative lawmakers could fight the parliamentary confirmation of Anisa Rassouli, who now heads a juvenile court. The step represents good news for civil rights activists worried that gains made by women might be eroded after the withdrawal of most foreign troops last year, 13 years after the US-led military intervention that toppled the Taliban in 2001.

The Taliban ruled with a strict interpretation of Islamic law and forbade women to work, attend school or leave home without a male relative and the all-encompassing burqa covering the face and body. More than a decade later, Afghanistan rema-ins a largely conservative Muslim society and members of the Ulema Council, an influential panel of clerics, protested against Rassouli’s nomination in a meeting with Mr Ghani.

“We told him that a woman cannot be a judge in capital crimes and other serious criminal issues,” said Shams-ul Rahman Frotan, a panel member who attended last Friday’s meeting. Rasso-uli’s confirmation is likely to face opposition from conservative religious lawmakers.