A group of women in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, Thursday staged what was the first demonstration in support of protests in Iran before being forcefully dispersed by Taliban authorities.
The rally comes as nationwide protests continued in the neighboring country over the death of a young woman, Masha Amini, while in detention by morality police in Tehran for failing to properly cover her hair with a hijab.
Witnesses in Kabul said that about 30 female activists in headscarves gathered outside the Iranian embassy chanting, "Women, life, freedom" — slogans used during Iranian protests. They also held banners that read, "Iran has risen. Now it's our turn!" and "From Kabul to Iran say no to dictatorship!"
Taliban security forces snatched and tore the banners before firing in the air to disperse the rally. Organizers later said the demonstration was held to show "support and solidarity" with the Iranian people and the women in Afghanistan.
"We are sure that one day, our people will rise in the same way as the Iranian people," said a protester who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Since returning to power a year ago, the Islamist Taliban have instructed women to cover their faces in public and told many female public sector employees to stay home. The group's vice and virtue ministry also requires women not to undertake long road trips unless accompanied by a close male relative.
The Taliban have barred teenage girls in Afghanistan from attending secondary school education beyond grade six.
The restrictions have outraged activists and students and have triggered relentless international calls for the Taliban to ease them if they want their government to be formally recognized.
The Islamist rulers maintain the restrictions are in line with Afghan culture and Islamic principles.
The protests in Iran have spread to at least 80 cities and towns. Security police have used tear gas, clubs and, in some cases, live ammunition to quell the protests calling for the end to the Islamic establishment's more than four decades in power.
Iranian state media said 41 people, including members of the police and a pro-government militia, have been killed during the protests, although Iranian human rights groups have reported a higher toll.
Amini, 22, was arrested September 13 and died three days later in a hospital after falling into a coma. Her family filed a complaint this week against the Iranian police officers who arrested her, calling for a full investigation.
The Iranian police have denied responsibility for Amini's death.
Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse.