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The Taliban is an Islamic militant group operating in Afghanistan and western Pakistan. In the late 1990s it made a government, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. It was formed in 1994 in southern Afghanistan and was helped by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. When it ruled Afghanistan (1996–2001), leaders of the Taliban put in place the most extreme type of Islamic law ever seen in the Muslim world. Much criticism of the Taliban came from important Muslim scholars. For example, if a thief was caught stealing something the Taliban would cut-off one of his hands so that he does not use it to steal again, even if the stolen thing was as small as a pack of cigarettes. Many criminals were put to death fast and without a fair court hearing. Anyone who refused to follow the law was considered a non-Muslim enemy. Every male had to attend the mosque for prayer (except Afghan non-Muslims) during praying times, which is 5 times daily. The Taliban became known around the world for their very bad treatment of women.
After the September 11 attacks in 2001, the United States removed the Taliban government from power for not arresting Osama bin Laden and a number of important al-Qaeda members. The American government said that bin Laden and al-Qaeda members did the attacks in New York and Washington, but the Taliban asked the United States for proof of this before handing them over.
The Taliban is still fighting the Afghan and Pakistani governments in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan.
- Griffiths, John C. (2001), Afghanistan: A History of Conflict, London: Carlton Books,
- Rashid, Ahmed (2000), Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, New Haven: Yale University Press,
- Rashid 2000, p. 29
- Dupree Hatch, Nancy. "Afghan Women under the Taliban" in Maley, William. Fundamentalism Reborn? Afghanistan and the Taliban. London: Hurst and Company, 2001, pp. 145–166.