Prominent Afghan professor arrested for criticising Taliban rule | News

The arrest of Faizullah Jalal raises fears that the Taliban will re-impose harsh rules on freedom of expression.

A prominent Afghan university professor and outspoken critic of the Taliban leadership was arrested in Kabul.

Faizullah Jalal, a longtime professor of law and political science at Kabul University, has appeared several times on television talk shows since the US-backed government was toppled in August, blaming the Taliban for the worsening financial crisis and criticizing them for ruling by force. .

In one television appearance, Jalal called Taliban spokesman Muhammad Naim a “calf,” a serious insult in Afghanistan. Clips of his enthusiastic criticism spread on social media, raising fears of reprisals.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter that Jalal was arrested on Saturday by the Taliban’s intelligence arm because of statements he made on social media in which he was trying to “incite people against the regime and was playing with the dignity of the people.”

He added: “He was arrested so that others would not make similar absurd comments in the name of a professor or researcher that would harm the dignity of others.”

Mujahid shared screenshots of the tweets that Jalal allegedly posted, which said the Taliban intelligence chief was an agent of Pakistan, and that the new government considered Afghans to be “donkeys”.

Local news agency Aamaj News said the account Mujahid referred to, @UstadJalal1, was fake. On Saturday, the professor tweeted from his official Twitter account, JalalFaizullah, to denounce the fact that the account was claiming to be him.

Jalal’s wife Masouda, who ran against former President Hamid Karzai in 2004 as Afghanistan’s first female presidential candidate, posted on Facebook that Taliban forces had arrested her husband and he was being held at an unknown location.

“Dr. Jalal has struggled and demanded justice and the national interest in all his human rights activities,” she said.

A security source said TOLO TV, the largest station in Afghanistan on which Faizullah Jalal was a frequent commentator, tweeted that Jalal had been arrested “due to allegations against government departments”.

freedom of expression

The human rights defender Amnesty International has denounced the arrest of the lecturer for “exercising freedom of expression and criticizing the Taliban” and called for his immediate and unconditional release.

Patricia Gusman, associate director for Asia at Human Rights Watch, responded to the news of the arrest in a tweet saying, “Because in the Taliban world you have no right to complain or criticize. Repressive authoritarian regimes have tolerated no opposition.”

In a tweet early Sunday morning, Jalal’s daughter, Hasina Jalal, appealed for her father’s release. “I call on the Taliban to release my father immediately,” she said.

The Taliban formed an all-men government made up entirely of the group’s members, almost exclusively of ethnic Pashtuns.

They further restricted women’s rights to travel, work and study, drawing widespread international condemnation.

Sanctions imposed by the United States on the Taliban government have halted much-needed international aid to Afghanistan, which is facing a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. The United Nations has warned that 90 percent of the country’s 38 million people are in dire need.

The arrest may complicate humanitarian aid efforts as it reinforces fears that the Taliban are imposing the same harsh and oppressive rule that their last term in power was from 1996-2001.

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