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Popular Afghan professor arrested for criticising Taliban regime on social media

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A popular Afghanistan law professor, Faizullah Jalal, has been arrested for criticising the Taliban regime on social media, a spokesman for the government said in a statement on Sunday.

Jalal, a prominent don at the Kabul University, who was arrested in the early hours of Saturday in the capital, has a long reputation as a critic of Afghanistan’s leaders in the past and has openly criticised the Taliban’s hardline regime since they seized power last year.

Prof. Jalal has made several appearances on television talk shows since the previous US-backed government was ousted in August, and in almost all his interviews, blamed the Taliban for the worsening financial and economic crisis in the country and criticising them for ruling by force.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, who confirmed the arrest of Jalal in a tweet, said the critic had been detained 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.”

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“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,” Mujahid wrote.

Mujahid also shared screenshots of tweets he claimed had been posted by Jalal, which said the Taliban intelligence chief was a stooge of Pakistan, and that the new government considers Afghans as “donkeys”.

In one television appearance, Jalal called Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem who was also participating in the program, a “calf”, which Afghans see as a grave insult.

Jalal’s wife Massouda, a one time presidential candidate in Afghanistan, making her the first woman in the country to run 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 wrote.

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