We Are All Equal

The hijab ban a year later.

Twelve months on, the row has subsided and the law is being hailed by the Government as a success that has stemmed the Islamic fundamentalist tide and brought calm to the nation’s lycées. Fathima, who is 16, agrees. “In the end I really don’t think it was a bad law at all. I wear my voile until I get to the school gates and then I take it off. School is not a place for religion. It is a place where we are all French and we are all equal. After lessons, I put the scarf back on again. There’s no difficulty.”

That’s good – that seems a hopeful sign. Except…one hopes that after school Fathima doesn’t have to go someplace where we are not all equal. One hopes that school is not the only place in Fathima’s life where ‘we are all equal.’ But if it is – well then, what a good thing it is there, and let’s hope its influence spreads.

And in Kabul people get to see a Shakespeare play. ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost,’ which would not be my first choice, nor my tenth or twentieth – but never mind that. After 27 years of no Shakespeare at all, LLL probably looks like Twelfth Night and Hamlet combined.

It was the finale to a four-night run that was enthusiastically received by the audiences but met some fierce criticism in the conservative press, which saw it as an imposition of western values.

That’s right. It’s multiculturalism. Enjoy!

One actress had to move out of her home: neighbours suspected her of adultery or prostitution because she was coming home after sunset owing to long rehearsals.

Well then obviously she’s out spreading her legs somewhere! The slut – what business do women have being away from home after sunset?! I ask you. If the good lord had wanted women to be away from home after sunset, he would have given them night vision. I rest my case.

The audience of about 400 included members of the Afghan royal family, the French ambassador, students and builders restoring the gardens. Miss Jaber said the cultural obstacles, particularly for the female actors, had been enormous. “At first the actors would not even look at each other,” she said. Faizal Azizi, who played a courtier, said the Taliban, which ruled for five years until the 2001 American invasion, would “never allow us to put on a play, to tell a story about love. Now we have a democracy and we can show these things to our people. I am so proud.”

And so you should be. Go, Faizal, go, students and builders. Live, breathe, fly kites, listen to music, go to plays, stay out after sunset. Live.

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