Afghan opposition groups outraged by UN workers pictured under Taliban flag

The UN has issued an apology after workers took photos under Taliban flags during a visit to Afghanistan.

“We are aware of this photo which was taken while the assistant secretary general was meeting with the de facto leaders in Afghanistan,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary general, told Fox News Digital. “Her security had taken her to this meeting and was waiting nearby.”

“The photo should never have been taken,” Dujarric pointed out. “It was a mistake, and we apologize for it.”

The footage first surfaced on social media on Thursday night, showing UN staff in Kabul taking a picture under Taliban flags.

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Under-Secretary-General Amina Mohammad, the UN’s top official, had traveled to Afghanistan to address concerns about women’s rights in the country – particularly access to higher education and limitations imposed on women in the workplace.

The delegation is the highest-ranking group of officials to visit the country since the Taliban came to power in 2021.

Mohammad has sought to speak with senior Taliban leaders to convince them to reverse the direction of the restrictions, which have jeopardized humanitarian operations since women cannot participate, according to the BBC.

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Ali Maisam Nazary, head of external relations for the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, released the photos and denounced them as “insensitive”.

“UN personnel in Kabul taking a photo with the flag of a terrorist group calls into question the impartiality and integrity of the UN,” Nazary wrote. “We call on Antonio Guterres to investigate this matter and on UNAMA News to prevent such callous actions that may tarnish his reputation.”

Taliban acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi meets with UN delegates, in Kabul, Afghanistan, in this screen grab from video posted on January 18, 2023.

Taliban acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi meets with UN delegates, in Kabul, Afghanistan, in this screen grab from video posted on January 18, 2023.
(Taliban Foreign Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

Nazary separately told Fox News Digital that the photos were “unfortunate” and reiterated his concerns about the impartiality and integrity of the UN.

“This comes as Taliban terrorists allow Afghanistan to become a hub for international terrorism, and they increase their oppression on citizens, especially women,” Nazary said. “Such acts cause us to question the impartiality and integrity of the United Nations in Afghanistan, and we call on Secretary-General António Guterres to investigate this matter and prevent any biased action by staff. visiting Afghanistan in the future.”

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Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban’s chosen representative to the UN and former Taliban spokesman, told Fox News Digital that the words on the Taliban flag belong to “Muslims everywhere.”

Suhail Shaheen, spokesperson for the Afghan Taliban, speaks during a joint press conference in Moscow.

Suhail Shaheen, spokesperson for the Afghan Taliban, speaks during a joint press conference in Moscow.
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)

“The words written on the white cloth are words that Muslims around the world believe in, that is, there is no God but Allah, Mohammad (as) is the Prophet of ‘Allah,” Shaheen said. “It belongs to all Muslims, not just one nation or one government.”

“Anyone who does not believe it is not called Muslim, or says anything against it, is committing blasphemy,” he added.

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The UN delegation met with Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, who stressed the need for international recognition to help empower the government, as well as the removal of sanctions that limit government funding.

Fox News’ Chris Massaro contributed to this article.

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