Taliban arrest Afghan professor after social media criticism

Professor Faizullah Jalal | Photo: Twitter | @Jalal Faizullah

A prominent Afghan University professor who openly criticized the Taliban's hardline regime has been arrested in Kabul, a spokesperson for the government said.

Professor Faizullah Jalal had made several appearances on television talk shows since the previous US-backed government was ousted in August, blaming the Taliban for the worsening financial crisis and criticizing them for ruling by force.

Since returning to power, the Taliban have cracked down on dissent, forcefully dispersing women's rights protests and briefly detaining several Afghan journalists.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid between that Prof Jalal had been detained on Saturday (Jan 8) over statements he made on social media. He was "trying to instigate people against the system and was playing with the dignity of the people."

"He has been arrested so that others don't make similar senseless comments in the name of being a professor or scholar that harm the dignity of others, "he added.

Mr. Mujahid shared a few screenshots of tweets he claimed he had been posted by Prof Jalal, which he said the Taliban intelligence chief was a stooge of Pakistan, and the new government considers Afghans as "donkeys."

In one television appearance, Prof Jalal called Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem- who was also participating – a "calf," a grave insult in Afghanistan.

Clips of his passionate criticism went viral on social media, sparking concern he risked Taliban retribution. 

Prof Jalal's wife Massoud, who once stood as Afghanistan's first woman candidate for the presidency, posted that her husband had been arrested by Taliban forces and detained in an unknown location.

"Dr. Jalal has fought and spoken out for justice and the national interests in all his activities pertaining to human rights." she said.

A long-time professor of law and political science at Kabul University, Prof Jalal has long had a reputation as a critic of Afghanistan's leaders.

The Taliban have formed an all-male Cabinet made up entirely of group members and almost exclusively of ethnic Pashtuns.

They have further restricted women's rights to work and study, triggering widespread international condemnation.

Publish : 2022-01-09 15:09:00

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