Washington Post op-ed: Why authoritarian regimes attack independent universities
September 28, 2021
One of the first institutions to fall when the Taliban entered Kabul in mid-August was the American University of Afghanistan. For a time the country’s only private, nonprofit, independent university, AUAF opened in 2006 with international support and was intended to serve as a linchpin of Afghanistan’s nascent democracy.
Taliban militants had attacked AUAF twice in August 2016, first by abducting two professors (they were released three years later in a prisoner exchange) and then with a car bomb and automatic weapons, killing 15 people. But the university carried on, with fortified blast walls.
Now, the once-vibrant campus in the heart of Kabul has been commandeered by the Taliban. Its students — nearly half of them women — and faculty have largely fled the country or gone into hiding.