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As Afghanistan’s Presidential election approaches, the Taliban’s attempts to disrupt the electoral proceedings have grown increasingly violent. On Tuesday, Taliban militants attacked Afghan security forces at the national election offices in Kabul, killing five people. On Friday, also in Kabul, a Taliban suicide bomber and his associates killed two civilians at the guesthouse of a U.S. aid organization.
A few months after the start of America’s war in Afghanistan, in 2001, Jon Lee Anderson reported on the lasting effects of Taliban rule in Kandahar province, where the movement was born. Accompanying Anderson’s article was a series of photographs of Taliban soldiers, which the Magnum photographer Thomas Dworzak, who travelled to Kandahar with Anderson, had come across in photo shops. Under the Taliban’s strict enforcement of Koranic law, photography and other visual representations of the human image were forbidden throughout the city. (In his book “Taliban,” Dworzak recalls seeing “a body builder advertising a gym had his head replaced by a map of Afghanistan; imported cosmetics ads had the eyes scratched out.”) But, despite this prohibition, Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, recognized that his soldiers needed passport photographs, and allowed a group of photo shops in downtown Kandahar to supply them.