Afghanistan's Taliban government has banned higher education for females in the country, resulting in a flurry of condemnations from countries around the world.
In a letter which was confirmed on Tuesday by a spokesperson for the higher education ministry, Afghan public and private universities were instructed to suspend access to female students immediately.
Signed by the Minister for Higher Education, Neda Mohammad Nadeem, the letter told the universities that "You all are informed to immediately implement the mentioned order of suspending the education of females until further notice", referring to a decision made by the country's Cabinet.
The decision sparked worldwide condemnation, with UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric describing it as "troubling".
"It's clearly another broken promise from the Taliban," he said. "We have seen since their takeover…a lessening of space for women, not only in education, but access to public areas."
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He added that it is "another very troubling move and it's difficult to imagine how a country can develop, can deal with all of the challenges that it has without the active participation of women and their education."
A number of states also condemned the move, including Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry which today expressed "surprise and regret" and called on Kabul to reverse the decision.
In a statement by its foreign ministry, Qatar stressed that such policies "will have a significant impact on human rights, development, and the economy in Afghanistan." It added: "As a Muslim country in which women enjoy all their rights, especially education, the state of Qatar calls on the Afghan caretaker government to review its decision in line with the teachings of the Islamic religion concerning women's rights."
Turkiye also condemned the decision, with presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin stating in a tweet that the ban is "against the spirit of Islam" and has "no place in religion".