The Taliban arrested a teacher who protested against the ban on women’s education News

The Taliban have confirmed the detention of Ismail Mashal, who tore up his diplomas on live television to protest a ban on women’s education.

Afghan Taliban authorities have arrested an academic who tore up his degrees on live television to protest the country’s ban on women’s university education, his aide said Friday.

“As of today, I no longer need those diplomas because this country is not a place for education. If my sister and my mother cannot study, then I do not accept this education,” veteran journalism professor Ismail Mashal said in a video that went viral on social media last month.

Mashal’s aide Farid Ahmad Fazli told the AFP news agency that the academic was “mercilessly beaten” and taken away in a very uncivil manner by members of the “Islamic Emirate”, the Taliban government.

Al Jazeera was also able to confirm Mashal’s detention.

The destruction of his diplomas by the local Tolonews in December caused a furor, adding to protests by women and activists against the Taliban edict ending women’s university education.

A Taliban official confirmed the detention.

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

“Security agencies have taken him away for investigation.”

‘Giving free books’

In recent days, domestic channels have shown Mashal driving books around the capital, Kabul, offering them to passers-by.

Mashal, who has worked as a lecturer at three universities in Kabul for more than 10 years, was arrested on Thursday even though he “didn’t commit any crime,” Fazli said.

“He gave free books to sisters (women) and men,” he added. “He is still in custody and we do not know where he is.”

It is rare to see a man protesting in support of women in Afghanistan, but Mashal, who ran a co-educational institute, said he would stand up for women’s rights.

“As a man and as a teacher, I couldn’t do anything else for them and I felt that my certificates had become useless. So I tore them up,” he told AFP at the time.

“I raise my voice. I stand with my sisters… My protest will continue even if it costs me my life.”

Limit women’s rights

The denial of secondary and tertiary education to girls and women is a continuous concern of the international community.

Most girls’ high schools remain closed, and most girls who are supposed to be in grades 7 to 12 are denied access to school based solely on their gender, experts say.

Women and girls in Afghanistan have been continuously protesting against the measures for the past five months, demanding their rights to education, work and freedom.

Their Taliban rulers repeatedly beat, threatened or arrested women demonstrators.

The Taliban, who returned to power in August 2021, initially promised women’s rights and media freedom, but have since gradually imposed restrictions on women, bringing back memories of their last rule between 1996 and 2001.

Some senior Taliban leaders have said Islam gives women the right to education and work, but a hardline faction of the group has prevailed in implementing measures against women.

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