Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Faizullah Jalal was detained for several days after criticizing the Taliban’s rule.

The Taliban has released a prominent university professor and outspoken critic of successive Afghan governments who arrested over the weekend, said a family member.

Hasina Jalal, Faizullah Jalal’s daughter, said on Tuesday her father had been released from Taliban detention. The group accused him of making provocative remarks against the government.

Jalal was detained by the Taliban’s intelligence arm on Sunday.

“After more than four days of detention on unfounded charges, I confirm that Professor Jalal has now finally been released,” Hasina posted on Twitter after launching a social media campaign calling for his immediate release.

Jalal, a longtime professor of law and political science at the University of Kabul, has gained a reputation as a critic of Afghanistan’s leaders over the past few decades.

Jalal has made several appearances on television talk shows since the US-backed government was ousted in August, blaming the Taliban for an aggravating financial crisis and criticizing them for ruling by force.

In one television appearance, he called Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem a “calf”, a serious insult in Afghanistan. Excerpts from his critique went viral online.

Zabihullah Mujahid, government spokesperson, said earlier on Twitter that Jalal had made statements on social media in which he “tried to incite people against the system”.

“He was arrested so that others would not make similar senseless remarks … which would harm the dignity of others,” he added.

Jalal’s family said the tweets shared by Mujahid were from a fake Twitter account they were trying to close.

“The Taliban are only using these postings as an excuse to silence a strong voice in the country,” Hasina, a fellow at Georgetown University in Washington DC, told AFP news agency after the arrest.

After his arrest, he received an outpouring of support on social media, with many users posting photos of Jalal. A small group of women protested in Kabul and demanded his release.

In his late 50s, the Afghan professor refused offers to leave the country after the Taliban took power, and mostly hid in Kabul while his family fled to Europe, Hasina told AFP.

The Taliban control seized of Afghanistan last August before the US’s chaotic departure on 31 August after nearly 20 years of war. The group previously had the power of 1996-2001.

Afghanistan is facing major humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations warning that 90 percent of the country’s 38 million people are in serious need. The arrest of a prominent political activist has threatened to complicate humanitarian aid efforts.

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