The Taliban have arrested a Kabul university professor who gained national fame for berating a senior official on live television, a sign of the intensifying crackdown on critics of Afghanistan’s new regime.
Faizullah Jalal, a professor of political science and law at Kabul University, was arrested Saturday, weeks after he confronted a Taliban official in a debate on Afghanistan’s largest television network, Tolo. Lashing out at the Taliban’s extremist rule, he called Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, a “terrorist” and a “calf,” an Afghan insult for people of low intelligence.
Taliban chief spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid confirmed the arrest of Mr. Jalal on Twitter, calling the professor a “fanatic” who used social media to incite people. Mr. Mujahid posted screenshots of a social-media account posting anti-Taliban messages in the professor’s name.
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Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 17, 2021. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)
Mr. Jalal’s family members, who run his official Twitter account, said the account in the screenshots was fake. Mr. Jalal’s daughter, Hasina, told The Wall Journal that the family hadn’t been able to contact the professor since Saturday afternoon local time.
In the weeks after seizing power in August, the Taliban repeatedly said they supported free media and mostly refrained from jailing critics, even as scores of former government officials and security force members were gunned down, often by unknown assailants.
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