Afghan opposition groups outraged by UN employees photographed under the Taliban flag

The UN has apologized after staff members took photos under Taliban flags during a visit to Afghanistan.

“We are aware of this photo taken while the deputy secretary-general was meeting with the de facto leaders in Afghanistan,” Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, told Fox News Digital. “Her security had taken her to that meeting and was waiting next door.”

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

The photos first surfaced on social media on Thursday evening, showing UN personnel in Kabul taking a photo under the Taliban flag.

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Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammad, the UN’s top female official, had visited Afghanistan to address concerns about women’s rights in the country, particularly access to higher education and restrictions on women in the workplace.

The delegation is the highest group of officials to have visited the country since the Taliban came to power in 2021.

According to the BBC, Mohammad wanted to speak to senior Taliban leaders to convince them to reverse the direction of restrictions that have put humanitarian operations at risk because women cannot participate.

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Ali Maisam Nazary, foreign relations chief of Afghanistan’s National Resistance Front, posted the photos and condemned them as “insensitive.”

“UN personnel in Kabul taking a picture with the flag of a terrorist group casts doubt on the impartiality and integrity of the United Nations,” Nazary wrote. “We kindly ask Antonio Guterres to investigate this matter and for UNAMA News to prevent such insensitive actions that could tarnish her reputation.”

Acting Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi meets with UN delegates in Kabul, Afghanistan, in this screenshot from a video released on Jan. 18, 2023.

Acting Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi meets with UN delegates in Kabul, Afghanistan, in this screenshot from a video released on Jan. 18, 2023.
(Taliban Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Handout via Reuters)

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

“This is because the Taliban terrorists are allowing Afghanistan to become a hub for international terrorism, and they are increasing the repression of civilians, especially women,” Nazary said. “Such acts make us question the impartiality and integrity of the UN in Afghanistan, and we kindly ask Secretary-General Guterres to investigate this matter and prevent any bias from UN personnel visiting Afghanistan in the future.”

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

Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Afghan Taliban, speaks at a joint press conference in Moscow.

Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Afghan Taliban, speaks at a joint press conference in Moscow.
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, pool, file)

“The words written on the silver screen are words that Muslims all over the world believe in, ie there is no God but Allah, Mohammad (pbuh) is the prophet of Allah,” said Shaheen. “It belongs to all Muslims, not to one nation or government.”

“Anyone who does not believe this, is not called a 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 strengthen the government, along with the lifting of sanctions restricting the government’s funding.

Fox News’ Chris Massaro contributed to this article.

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