A Taliban sports ministry to “connect with the rest of the world”

“But why do you all talk to me about women when you come to see me?” “, is astonished Bachir Ahmad Rustamzai, a former wrestler and former owner of kickboxing clubs, now in charge of sports within the Taliban government. Installed in the former office of the president of the Afghan Olympic Committee which overlooks the presidential platform of the large football stadium in Kabul, he is annoyed at not being able to expand on the resumption of training for men. ” In any event, he declares, We have not yet decided for women, it is still under discussion, we must bring the practice of sport into line with Islamic law. “

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Behind his big salt and pepper beard and under his turban, this stocky man seems happy to be where he is. He does the minimum service on the language elements consistent with the fundamentalist Taliban discourse. He prefers, by far, to narrate the successes of his “160 kickboxing academies spread across the country” and numerous gold medals won in championships. “Under the first Taliban regime, I was responsible for kung fu. Then when they were defeated I continued working for the first Provisional Government [2001-2004] of President Hamid Karzai in the field of martial arts ”.

“Trial of intent of international opinion”

For several years he seems to be getting along with the power in Afghanistan held at arm’s length by the United States and its Western allies. But little by little, he says, he sees “The new regime of the interior, corruption, adultery, lands sold to invaders”. It is then, he continues, “That I decided, in 2008-2009, to leave my functions, in particular those of president of the federation of kickboxing”. He joins “The insurgency in the black mountains, north of Kabul”. He was arrested in 2015, during a night raid by the Afghan intelligence services supported by foreign forces. Locked in the American prison of Bagram, north of Kabul, he did not come out until August 15, the day Kabul fell.

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“Sport is a message of peace, and a tool for our government to connect with the rest of the world. We have already planned international meetings and we are going to travel a lot ”, he assures. As for threats from Australia to cancel the first historic men’s cricket match between the two countries scheduled for November, if the Afghan women’s team were not allowed to play, he replies that “The Australians have apologized, they cannot interfere like this in the internal affairs of another country”.

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