Top 5 Million Things Banned by the Taliban


Are we sure that Faisal Shahzad was trained by the Taliban? His skillz weren’t mad (as colleague Tom Robbins points out), even if Shahzad himself is. Whether he was on a mission for the Taliban is still up in the air.

If he is a real Taliban, here are some of the 5 million things and activities he can’t do or have:

  • Kite-flying
  • Satellite dishes
  • Lobster
  • Nail polish
  • Wearing your hair in a “Beatle-y” way
  • Sewing catalogs
  • Chess
  • Pig oil

Please note that firecrackers are one of the 5 million or so things banned by the mascara-wearing religious fanatics who were welcomed into the White House in 1983 (where they were feted by Ronald Reagan as “freedom fighters”), visited Texas in 1997 to get their butts kissed at a barbeque hosted by Houston oilmen hoping to land a pipeline project, and came back in 1999 for a tour of Mount Rushmore.

Can’t find barbecues or “Ronald Reagan” on the list, but here are some more:

  • Pork
  • Anything made from human hair
  • Cinematography
  • Any equipment that produces the joy of music
  • Anything that promotes sex and is full of music
  • Singing by women during weddings
  • Pool tables
  • Educated people
  • Masks
  • Alcohol
  • Tapes
  • Computers
  • VCRs
  • TVs
  • Wine
  • Statues
  • Pictures
  • Christmas cards

Amy Waldman’s memorable 2001 story in the Times is the inspiration. As Waldman noted:

Those who fly pigeons — a favorite Afghan pastime — will be imprisoned until “their pigeons disappear from their home.” Female doctors must wear old clothes and no ornamentation. Male doctors who must treat a female patient because of a medical emergency “can only look at the part that the patient needs looked at; nowhere else can be touched or seen.”

Nothing was left to chance or the imagination under the Taliban. Merchants importing products like shampoo would find that Taliban customs officials had gouged out the eyes of the female models on the boxes. The merchants were then required to display the products with black tape over female faces, or be subject to a beating or jailing.

Lots of Afghani men like to play dress-up, and the Taliban say they want to try to stop most of that. But the Taliban are, after all, mostly Afghani, and the cultural imperative is strong, so the Taliban themselves like to look good. And if that means mascara, well…