PAN, September 22, 2012

Students protest renaming of university in Kabul

By Meer Agha Nasrat Samimi

Hundreds of students at the Kabul Education University on Saturday protested a presidential announcement renaming the institute after a slain politician and former president, Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Rabbani, the Jamiat-i-Islami Afghanistan party leader, was assassinated along with three other members of the high peace council in a suicide attack carried out by a militant posing as peace emissary at his residence in the Wazir Akbar Khan diplomatic enclave on Sept. 20, 2012.

President Hamid Karzai has issued a decree renaming the Kabul Education University as University of Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani after his cabinet ministers demanded so.

Students protest against renaming university to warlord Rabbani's name, Sep. 22, 2012: A banner held by students reads "We will continue studying under the name of the Education University". Many students of the university refused to attend classes and one teacher reportedly handed his resignation outside. Burhanuddin Rabbani was the president of Afghanistan during the dark 1992-94 civil war, during which 65,000 civilians were killed and hundreds of heinous crimes were committed by men of different factions that fought each other for power. His party was involved in countless crimes, particularly the Afshar campaign in 1993 when he joined forces with Ahmad Shah Massoud and Rasool Sayyaf, and massacred hundreds of Hazara civilians in cold blood, near this very university. ( ) (Photo: PAN)

Some students at the university agreed to the president’s decision, but most voiced their opposition to the renaming.

One of the protesting students, Mohammad Raza, confirmed to Pajhwok Afghan News that the students had been divided into two groups over the issue.

“Why the university was not renamed after Maulana Jalaluddin Balkhi, who had a great contribution towards humanity or Ghazi Amanullah Khan, who was the hero of independence. There are other legends and famous people the university could be named after,” he said, opposing the renaming of their university after Rabbani.

He said they respected Rabbani, but their university should not be turned into a political platform. The Afghans had suffered a lot at the hands of politicians, he said.

Another student, Syedullah said Rabbani was a respected jihadi leader and if the government respected his services and contributions to the nation, it should establish a new university in his name.

The students issued a resolution asking Karzai to reserve his decision of renaming the university. It said the renaming would leave negative impact on study environment on the campus because many students opposed the idea.

However, other students agreed with the decision, saying Rabbani should be remembered for his sacrifice and efforts at bringing peace and stability to the country.

Minhajuddin, who stayed away from the protest, said, Rabbani be respected for his efforts, adding a handful of protesting students could not represent all students of the university.

The university chancellor, Amanullah Hamidzai, said, the institute was renamed in compliance of the presidential decree. He said they had to accept what the government directed.

He denied rumors as baseless that some lecturers had resigned in protest over the renaming issue.

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