KABUL: A prominent Afghan university professor who openly criticised the Taliban regime has been arrested in Kabul, a spokesman for the government has said.

Prof Faizullah Jalal has 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 criticising them for ruling by force.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that Jalal had been detained on Saturday over statements he made on social media in which 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.

Mujahid shared screenshots of tweets he claimed had been posted by Jalal, which said the new government considers Afghans as “donkeys”.

In one television appearance, 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.

Jalal’s wife Massouda, who once stood as Afghanistan’s first woman candidate for the presidency, posted on Facebook 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 interest in all his activities pertaining to human rights,” she said.

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

Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2022

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