At the social science faculty of Kabul University, a young female student was beaten up by the dean, Mr. Ghulam Farouq Abdullah, to the extent that one of her hands was broken, Bokhdi News Agency reported.
The student, Zainab Khavari, was in Mr. Abdullah’s office to ask him if she could participate in final exams, as due to her absence, she was not allowed to do so. Usually in some cases, the dean has the authority to forgive a student’s absence, if she/he had good reasons. Ms. Khavari has told Bokhdi that she has to work and study at the same time, so her absence reached beyond the acceptable limit.
According to the report, when the dean refused her petition and asked Zainab to get out of his office, she repeated her request, this time the dean lost control and attacked her with a stick; the academic assistant and a professor were also present. After the violent attack she noticed that her hand was broken, she went to the 3rd district police station, but no one listened to her, she then went to Afghanistan Human Right Commission, where she filed a complaint.
Physical violence is not very common at Kabul University campus; however, there are several incidents I can remember from my years of studying and then teaching there, when students were beaten either by profs or the security guards.
I believe this particular incident is the result of the intense ethnic hostility in Kabul University, as Zainab is a Hazara apparently a returnee from Iran who are mostly more expressive and self-confident in verbal confrontations.
Social science faculty is where the Hazara students are predominant in number, so the sensitivity against them is very high. Years of absence from Afghanistan’s education scene, made the Hazaras to rush to schools after the fall of Taliban in 2001 and this obviously has made some officials uncomfortable –though still the number of Hazara students at Kabul University is very small, considering their general population. In 2008, the chair of the philosophy department in social science faculty, a guy named Ahmad Zia Nikbin was famous for publicly ranting racist stuff against the Hazara people in his classrooms. The Hazara students decided to protest in front of the Higher Education Ministry, where one of the three Hazara employees of the ministry asked the minister to expel Nikbin. He was removed from his post, and then he returned after a while and took his teaching job, but not as a department chair. He also occasionally came to our department as well for teaching, I could say his knowledge of philosophy was embarrassingly little. However, he hanged a portrait of himself beside the portraits of Plato, Aristotle, Hegel and Kant on his office wall.
Anyway, the environment at Kabul University is really sick and dirty, the students are hostiles, the profs are ignorant, and the future is dark. I know more than one professor whose native tongue was Persian, but they still couldn’t read a simple Persian text from the book. This is catastrophe, I do not expect from these “scholars”, more than violence, ignorance and racism. The worst thing is that I don’t see any possibility to fix this; the only solution would be to remove them en mass from the university, which in this government is impossible.