| 3 March 2024, Sunday |

Taliban arrest prominent Afghan academic for ‘dissent’

According to a Facebook post by a well-known Afghan professor and critic of the Taliban regime’s wife, he was detained by Taliban on Saturday and “transferred to an unknown place.”

The family of Professor Faizullah Jalal said they were deeply concerned for his health.

“After the arrest of Dr. Jalal, his family is unaware of his health and well-being, and the Taliban have not officially disclosed the information and reason for the arrest,” the academic’s wife, Massouda Jalal, said on Facebook.
The Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said Jalal was “trying to instigate people against the system and was playing with the dignity of the people.”

He claimed that Jalal made controversial comments on social media, although the academic’s family claim the account cited by Mujahid is fake.
The militant group’s spokesman went on to say: “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.”

Jalal’s open criticism of the Taliban
Jalal has been a thorn in the side of Afghanistan’s leadership for years and has expressed his feelings on former presidents, Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani.

In November 2021, Jalal clashed with Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem when they both appeared on television together. In addition to being heavily critical of the Taliban’s policies , he also referred to their spokesman as a “calf.”

The professor was widely praised by Taliban critics for his courage in expressing his views. At the time, many social media users changed their profile pictures to that of Jalal.

Rights organizations have condemned the arrest of the professor and have called for his release.
“Taliban never have tolerated criticism or free speech. He should be released immediately,” tweeted Human Rights Watch Associate Asia Director Patricia Gossman.