KABUL: Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani apologized on Sunday for using a word with which he wanted to degrade male critics of his government, but which many women took as an affront and discrimination against the female sex.
On Saturday, responding to accusations made by locals, including some lawmakers, that top security in his government were aiding Daesh in Afghanistan, Ghani said those who make such allegations should either come up with proof before the court or wear chador (a headscarf worn by many Afghan women).
“Some inconsequential circles in the country are propagating against a few government officials which is baseless and is merely enemies’ propaganda,” Ghani said while speaking at a government-hosted event in Kabul on Saturday.
“Whoever claims that a high-ranking or mid-ranking official of the country cooperates with Daesh, he must go to the courts and prove his claim, otherwise he should wear chador.”
The comments drew a stern reaction from many women in major cities, some terming it as “discrimination against women,” some as an “affront,” while others regarded it as projecting women as “inferior” to men.
The anger and criticism prompted Ghani to seek an apology in a statement on Sunday.
“The President is a very prominent advocate of women’s rights and has taken unprecedented steps to strengthen and preserve their position during his tenure as the President of Afghanistan,” a palace statement said.
“Unfortunately, some people have misinterpreted the President’s remarks — trying to sway public opinion, using the word ‘chador’ – scarf in English – in the President’s speech yesterday.”
It further noted: “It is a common saying which is never aimed to offend the highly valuable place of women in the country. Yet, if that interpretation has hurt the feelings of women in our country, the president extends his apology.”