February 3, 2023

Taliban detain, beat Afghan educator for criticising ban on women’s education

By Biodun Busari

Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities have detained and beaten the country’s veteran journalism lecturer, Ismail Mashal for speaking against the ban imposed on women’s university education.

Mashal’s aide, Farid Ahmad Fazli revealed this on Friday morning following the lecturer’s outrage on live television against the prohibition of women’s university education in December, according to AFP.

While protesting against the Taliban’s edict that suspended women from assessing tertiary education, Mashal tore and shredded his degree certificates on TV in December.

In recent days, local news outlets revealed Mashal hauling books around Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, and offering them to passers-by.

“Mashal was mercilessly beaten and taken away in a very disrespectful manner by members of the Islamic Emirate,” Fazli told AFP.

Confirming the incident, a Taliban official said Mashal indulged in provocative actions against Taliban authorities and was arrested.

“Teacher Mashal had indulged in provocative actions against the system for some time,” tweeted Abdul Haq Hammad, director at the Ministry of Information and Culture.

“The security agencies took him for investigation.”

Mashal — a lecturer for more than a decade at three Kabul universities — was detained on Thursday despite having “committed no crime”, Fazli said.

“He was giving free books to sisters (women) and men,” he added. “He is still in detention and we don’t know where he is being held.”

In a profoundly conservative and patriarchal Afghanistan, it is rare to see a man protest in support of women but Mashal, who managed a co-educational institute said he would speak up for women’s rights.

“As a man and as a teacher, I was unable to do anything else for them, and I felt that my certificates had become useless. So, I tore them,” Mashal at a time.

“I’m raising my voice. I’m standing with my sisters…My protest will continue even if it costs my life.”

Meanwhile, a small group of male students held a brief walkout to protest the ban.