SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: June 02, 2020

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Kabul University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Afghanistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 02, 2020, Dr Mohammad Ayaz Niazi, a professor at Kabul University, was killed after an explosive device was detonated inside the Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque, located in Kabul city. One other person was killed and three others were reportedly injured in the attack.

Dr. Niazi was Imam of the Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque, a religious scholar, and a professor in the Faculty of Sharia at Kabul University. While no individual or group has claimed responsibility for the incident, security experts have concluded that this was a targeted attack, and part of a pattern of such attacks on religious scholars (and others who are seen as the intellectual elite of the country).

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about a targeted, violent attack on a scholar and offers condolences to the victim’s family, friends, and colleagues. In addition to the terrible loss of life, such attacks target the core values of higher education, including academic freedom, the free exchange of ideas, and social responsibility. State authorities have a responsibility to safeguard these values by taking all reasonable steps to ensure the security of higher education communities and their members, including a responsibility to deter future attacks by investigating incidents and making every effort to hold perpetrators accountable, consistent with internationally recognized standards. Members of society similarly have a responsibility to help safeguard the higher education space, especially following incidents of such gross violence, by pressing demands to state authorities for greater protection and accountability, and by contributing to efforts to understand and reinforce principles of autonomy and academic freedom.