Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

The arrest of Faizullah Jalal raises fears that the Taliban will once again impose strict rules on freedom of speech.

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

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

In one television appearance, Jalal, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem called a “calf”, a serious insult in Afghanistan. Clippings from his passionate critique went viral on social media, raising concerns about retaliation.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted Jalal was detained by the Taliban’s intelligence arm on Saturday over statements he made on social media in which he “tried to incite people against the system and play with the dignity of the people. ”.

“He has been arrested so that others do not make similarly meaningless remarks in the name of a professor or scholar who harms the dignity of others,” he added.

Mujahid shared screenshots of tweets he claimed were posted by Jalal, saying the Taliban intelligence chief was a loot from Pakistan, and that the new government regarded Afghans as “donkeys”.

The local news agency Aamaj News said the account to which Mujahid referred, @ UstadJalal1, was a fake. The professor tweeted on Saturday from his official Twitter handle, @JalalFaizullah, to condemn the fact that the account pretends to be him.

Jalal’s wife Massouda, who ran against former President Hamid Karzai in 2004 as Afghanistan’s first female candidate for the presidency, posted on Facebook that her husband had been arrested by Taliban forces and detained at an unknown location.

“Dr Jalal has fought and spoken out for justice and the national interest in all his activities related to human rights,” she said.

TOLO TV, Afghanistan’s largest station on which Faizuallah Jalal was a regular commentator, tweeted that Jalal had been arrested “allegedly for making allegations against state departments,” a security source said.

Freedom of speech

Human rights group Amnesty International condemned the lecturer’s arrest “for exercising his freedom of expression and criticizing the Taliban” and demanded his immediate and unconditional release.

Patricia Gossman, co-director of Asia for Human Rights Watch, responded in a tweet to the news of the arrest, saying: “Because in the Taliban’s world, you have no right to complain or criticize. Oppressive authoritarian regimes have not provoked any opponents. “

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

The Taliban have a all male cabinet consists entirely of members of the group, and almost exclusively of ethnic Pashtuns.

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

US-led sanctions against Taliban government strike 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 serious need.

The arrest could further complicate humanitarian aid efforts, as it reinforces fears that the Taliban are imposing the same harsh and repressive rule as their last regime of 1996-2001.

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