“Parents, students and teachers joined hand in hand to do this,” said Mohammed Saber Meshaal, the head of the Herat teachers’ union who helped organize the campaign. “This is the only place where community activists and teachers took the risk of staying and talking to the Taliban.

 High school girls are sitting at home almost everywhere in Afghanistan, forbidden to attend class by the Taliban rulers. But there’s one major exception, AP reports.

For weeks, girls in the western province of Herat have been back in high school classrooms — the fruit of a unique, concerted effort by teachers and parents to persuade local Taliban administrators to allow them to reopen.

Taliban officials never formally approved the reopening after the lobbying campaign, but they also didn’t prevent it either when teachers and parents started classes on their own in early October.

“Parents, students and teachers joined hand in hand to do this,” said Mohammed Saber Meshaal, the head of the Herat teachers’ union who helped organize the campaign. “This is the only place where community activists and teachers took the risk of staying and talking to the Taliban.”

The success in Herat highlights a significant difference in the Taliban’s current rule over Afghanistan from their previous one in the late 1990s. Back then, the militants were uncompromising in their hard-line ideology, banning women from public life and work and barring all girls from education. They used force and brutal punishments to enforce the rules.

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