Rare public appearance of the supreme leader for Eid

The supreme leader of Afghanistan gave a public speech on Sunday, only for the second time in six years, on the occasion of the feast of Eid al-Fitr, saying that the victory of the Taliban last August had allowed the country to regain freedom and security. .

The faithful were praying at the Eidgah mosque in the southern city of Kandahar, considered a stronghold of the Taliban, when a man from the front stood up and was introduced as the leader of the Taliban Hibatullah Akhundzada. He then began to speak, without turning to the crowd, according to messages posted on social media.

Two days after a bomb went off in a Kabul mosque, the presence of this man who never appeared in public was surrounded by exceptional security measures and the Taliban leader’s entourage prevented reporters from approaching, a correspondent of the AFP. “I congratulate you on victory, freedom and security. I congratulate you on security and the Islamic system“, he threw.

While the number of attacks has dropped dramatically since the Taliban came to power last August, several have occurred in recent days, some claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, which have mainly targeted Shiite and Sufi Muslims and killed. dozens of civilians.

The latest, Friday in Kabul against a mosque, killed at least 10 people. “I’m so happy I can’t even describe it“, He then told Bismillah, a faithful who was present in the mosque. “I dreamed of praying next to my supreme ruler, of hearing his voice or seeing him“.

Gul Ahmad, another Kandahar resident present at the mosque, stressed that Afghans will continue to visit the mosque despite the attacks. “Our people love their religion. Even though there are attacks every day, we will continue to go to mosques to pray there“, he has declared.

Two helicopters flew over the mosque without interruption during the two-hour ceremony.

A lonely leader

Sunday’s intervention was only the second time Akhundzada has appeared in public since taking control of the Taliban in 2016.

In October he went to the Darul Uloom Hakimiah mosque, also in Kandahar, according to an audio recording published by the Taliban on social networks.

The low profile of this new leader has led to questions about his actual role in the new government and even rumors of his death.

His public profile is limited to posting messages on Muslim holidays and it is estimated that he spends most of his time in Kandahar.

On Friday, his Eid message made no mention of the latest bloody attack to date, and he just bragged. “the strong Islamic and national army” And “the strong intelligence organizationimplemented by the Taliban.

For his part, in Kabul, Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund took advantage of his speech at Eid to once again accuse Washington of intervening in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. “Aren’t they holding back the country’s wealth that was in their banks? Isn’t this an interference in the internal affairs of this country?“, he has declared.

Washington seized billions of dollars in Afghan assets after its withdrawal from the country in August, further exacerbating the country’s humanitarian crisis.

Contrary to what was happening in Kandahar, many faithful in Kabul preferred to avoid going to the mosque for fear of new attacks.

The deadliest of them during Ramadan, against a mosque in the province of Kunduz (north) where a Sufi ceremony was taking place, killed 36 people and injured dozens.

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