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Updated February 4th, 2023 at 13:02 IST

Taliban beat & arrest professor who tore degrees on TV in support of women’s education

Ismail Mashal, a professor from Kabul, rose to prominence across the globe after he shredded his educational degrees on live TV in defiance of the Taliban.

Deeksha Sharma
Taliban
Image: Twitter/@freedomnoworg | Image:self
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Ismail Mashal, a male professor from Kabul, rose to prominence across the globe last year after he shredded his educational degrees on live TV in defiance of the Taliban’s university ban on women. However, on February 2, Mashal became a victim of assault while he was in the middle of distributing books to women and girls across the Afghan capital. 

According to Radio Free Europe, the 37-year-old professor caught the eye of the Taliban and was brutally beaten up by officials on Thursday. He was also subsequently arrested for the dissent. Abdul Haq Hammad, a Taliban official from the Information and Culture Ministry, accused Mashal of “provoking people against the [current political] system.”

Since December last year, the Taliban have carried out beatings and detained several people who have protested against its ban on women from pursuing university education. As a result, Mashal decided to take matters into his own hands and carried dozens of books on a cart named ‘Iqra’, which is Arabic for ‘read’, to distribute the reading material among women of Kabul.

"As the schools and universities are closed, I want these books to be distributed to impoverished Afghans. We now have to provide our people with books and pens in their homes,” Mashal told RFE/RL's Radio Azadi on February 2, just hours before he was arrested and beaten up in Kabul’s Dehbori Park.

UN demands immediate release of Mashal

“He was arrested and beaten. They beat him because he distributed books to the people. They took him to an unknown location,” Mashal’s friend Ustad Farid said. His arrest has sparked rage and concern across the world, with Richard Bennett, the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations, urging Taliban authorities to release the professor from custody.

“Concerned about yesterday's arrest of peaceful #EducationActivist & university lecturer #IsmaelMashal by Taliban. Targeting & suppressing peaceful civil activities is unacceptable & contrary to #Afghanistan's int obligations. I call for his immediate & unconditional release,” Bennett tweeted.

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Published February 4th, 2023 at 13:02 IST

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