Afghan Crisis

Taliban release prominent Afghan academic Faizullah Jalal

Published : January 12, 2022 16:59 IST

The family of prominent academic Faizullah Jalal have confirmed his release. Photo: JACK GUEZ/AFP

Family members of the well-known professor Faizullah Jalal announced news of his release on social media.

A well-known Afghan professor who had been arrested by the Taliban over the weekend has been freed. Professor Faizullah Jalal was detained by the Islamist group on January 8 for allegedly making inflammatory statements on Twitter. News of his release was made known by his daughter Hasina Jalal, who took to Twitter to confirm he had indeed been freed. "After more than four days of detention on baseless charges," she wrote. "I confirm that Professor Jalal is now finally released!"

Why was Jalal arrested?

On January 8, the academic's wife, Massouda Jalal, posted on Facebook that the militant group had taken the professor from his home and that he was "transferred to an unknown place." The Taliban's spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said on January 8 that Jalal had made statements on Twitter that "were provoking people against the government and playing with people's dignity.''

Jalal's family said that the account cited by the Taliban was not the professor and was a fake account. Hasina Jalal said she had reported the matter to Twitter on January 5, adding that her father had never been active on the platform.

An outspoken critic

Shortly after news of Jalal's arrest circulated, there was an outpouring of support from various quarters. There was also condemnation with calls for the professor's immediate release. Jalal has been an open critic of Afghanistan's leadership for years and has expressed his feelings on former Presidents Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani.

In November, Jalal clashed with Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem during a television debate. In addition to being heavily critical of the Taliban's policies, he referred to Naeem as a "calf." The professor was widely praised by Taliban critics for his courage in expressing his views. At the time, many social media users changed their profile pictures to that of Jalal.

kb/wmr (AP, AFP)