Photo: Taliban's Ministry of Higher Education

Taliban Higher Education Minister travels to Russia despite sanctions

Taliban’s Minister for Higher Education Neda Mohammad Nadeem has traveled to Tatarstan, a republic of the Russian Federation, on Tuesday to attend an education summit, amid sanctions by the EU.

Nadeem is accompanied by a delegation from the ministry to participate in a meeting on higher education held in the capital Kazan.

Hafiz Ziaullah Hashimi, Taliban’s spokesperson in the ministry, said that the minister and the delegation were officially invited to the summit by the Republic of Tatarstan.

Hashimi added that Nadeem is also expected to visit several universities across the country, including visiting some cities in Russia. During these visits, he will meet students from Afghanistan who are currently studying in Russia to listen to their concerns.

This official visit of the Taliban’s education minister comes following the sanctions by the EU council on March 7 to freeze assets of Nadeem and subject him to a travel ban to the EU countries.

The EU Council imposed these sanctions on Nadeem as well as the Taliban’s Minister for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice Mohammad Khalid Hanafi whom the Council said are behind the decrees banning girls’ and women’s education and gender-segregated practices in public life.

The Taliban’s education minister is particularly known as a hardline cleric who has reversed all the rules and bylaws of the higher education ministry since taking over the office.

For example, in a speech on 4 December in Herat province, Nadeem proclaimed that any member of the Taliban with “bombing” credentials should be exempt from taking a university entrance exam for they are “determined by the number of bombs they detonated not academic qualifications.”