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: March 08, 2023

Attack Types: Imprisonment


Region & Country:Southern Asia | Afghanistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Around March 8, 2023, the Taliban reportedly arrested Rasul Abdi Parsi, a scholar of Islamic law and former lecturer at Herat University, allegedly for social media posts criticizing the Taliban.

The circumstances around Parsi’s arrest are not publicly available. Taliban authorities have not publicly disclosed Parsi’s whereabouts or what charges he faces, if any.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of a scholar, apparently for exercising his right to freedom of expression — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Afghanistan is a party. State authorities must respect nonviolent expressive conduct and refrain from actions intended to punish, restrict, or deter such conduct. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such actions undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.

UPDATE: On October 30, 2023, Parsi, was sentenced to 16 months in prison: 4 months on charges of blasphemy or “insulting Islamic sanctities” and 12 months of charges of and “propagandising against the regime.”