KABUL – Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani apologized on Sunday for having recently told his critics to put on the hijab, or Islamic veil, causing outrage among women’s rights groups.
Ghani made the comment during a ceremony on Saturday, where opponents had been claiming that his government had ties to the Islamic State terror organization.
“The President is a very prominent advocate of women’s rights and has taken unique steps to strengthen and preserve their position since his tenure as the President of Afghanistan,” said the presidential palace in a statement.
Ghani’s remark was 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.”
In Afghan culture, some consider it shameful for a man to cover his head with a scarf, and asking a man to cover his head could be interpreted as implying he is a coward.
Ghani’s words led to severe criticism among the women’s rights community.
“There is no misinterpretation, Mr. President Ashraf Ghani. Your words literally mean ‘losers wear Chador or scarf.’ You must apologize unconditionally to all women,” activist Zabi Manzoori tweeted.