A university lecturer who made international headlines by tearing up his diploma live on TV in protest against the Taliban banning women from universities, says he is giving away 21,000 books he purchased over 15 years.
Ustad Mashal has built a tree-shaped mobile bookshelf atop a wheelbarrow, each branch labeled a subject, such as philosophy, computer science, medicine and law and political science, with the top of the tree decorated with the word “Iqra” (read/recite), the first word revealed to Mohammed in the Quran.
“I am giving away 21,000 books I purchased over a 15 year period at a cost of 3.5 million AFN ($39,000 today) to people for free,” he said in a interview with a local media outlet, Killid Group.” Promising that he would continue until women were allowed back to universities.
“Afghanistan’s development is dependent on Afghan women getting an education and have the right to work. And I hope that the Taliban reconsider their decisions,” Ustad Mashal said.
Mashal said he managed a school, a higher education institute and a teacher training centre, which are all closed to women.
Shortly after returning to power in August 2021, the Taliban banned girls from secondary schools, and in December last year, it ordered a ban on women from universities, which the group defended as “necessary to prevent the mixing of genders.” Despite international condemnations, the Taliban leadership have refused to change course on restrictions on women and girls.