Afghan educator who resigned over ban on women in universities pledges to fight back

KABUL: An Afghan scholar who caused a storm by resigning and tearing up her diplomas on live TV to protest a ban on women in universities has vowed to fight the order “even if it costs me my life”.
Ismail Mashala lecturer in journalism for more than a decade at three universities in Kabul, shredded his qualifications and resigned from the institutions after the ban was issued this month.
“I raise my voice. I stand with my sisters… My protest will continue even if it costs me my life”, Mashal35, told AFP in his office in the Afghan capital.
“As a man and as a teacher, I was unable to do anything else for them, and I felt that my certificates had become useless. So, I tore them up.”

Images of his explosion on Tuesday on TOLO newsa leading private television channel, has gone viral on social media, drawing criticism from some supporters of the Afghan Taliban authorities.
In the deeply conservative and patriarchal society, it is rare to see a man protesting for women, but Mashal said he would stand up for women’s rights.
“In a society where books and pens are snatched from mothers and sisters, it will only lead to crime, poverty and humiliation,” he said.
Authorities say the ban on women going to university was imposed because they did not follow a strict Islamic dress code.
But Mashal, who also runs an educational institute for men and women, rejected that justification.
“They told us to implement the wearing of hijab for women – we did that. They told us to separate the classes – we did that too,” he said, dressed in a a black suit.
“The Taliban have so far given no logical reason for the ban, which affects around 20 million girls.”
“God gave the right”
The ban had no basis in Islamic Sharia, he added.
“The right to education for women was given by God, by the Koran, by the Prophet (Mohammed) and our religion,” Mashal said as he held up religious books.
“So why should we despise women?
While the Taliban had promised a looser regime when they returned to power in August last year, they have instead imposed severe restrictions on women, shutting them out of public life.
Last week, the authorities also ordered all aid groups to prevent female employees from coming to work.
Girls’ secondary schools have been closed for more than a year, while many women have lost their government jobs and receive only a fraction of their salary to stay at home.
Women were also banned from going to parks, gymnasiums and public baths. They are prohibited from traveling without a close male relative and must cover up in public.
“In my opinion, we are becoming regressive,” said Mashal, whose wife lost her teaching job after the Taliban returned.
He worries about his daughter, who is in sixth, the last year of primary school, after which the school ban takes effect.
“I don’t know how to tell her to stop studying after sixth grade,” he said. “What crime did she commit?


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