Visiting Scholars Program

Afghan women with signs

On August 15th, 2021, the day that the Afghan government fell to the Taliban regime, the SJSU Human Rights Institute worked with partners to help evacuate Afghan scholars, journalists, and activists to help them reach safety and connect with universities offering opportunities in the U.S. AS part of these efforts, the SJSU HRI partnered with the UC Berkeley Human Rights Center to raise over $400,000 to host Visiting Scholars and their families at our respective institutions. The point of the SJSU HRI Visiting Scholars Program [VSP] is to provide intellectual opportunities for scholars and educational opportunities for students, faculty, and community members through their collaboration.

2022-23 Visiting Scholars

Masuma Mohammadi

Masuma Mohammadi

Masuma Mohammadi is conducting research and documenting the "condition of Hazara communities under Taliban control in Afghanistan." This is an extensive interview project with Hazara survivors still inside Afghanistan and as part of the (refugee) Afghan diaspora. The project is of great importance to human rights due to the increased oppression of women and ethnic/religious minorities in Afghanistan since the re-establishment of Taliban rule. The project has great potential given Masuma's established media presence and network in Afghanistan and Hazara communities.

Scholar Spotlight

Fear of Taliban Leads Afghan Scholars to Seek Safe Haven in the US

Masuma Mohammadi has been at San José State University for all of five months now, by way of Turkey. “Afghan women have been completely removed from the structure of [public] life in Afghanistan,” Mohammadi said. Her work as a journalist and women’s rights activist put her in the Taliban’s target sites. She was a radio reporter for the United Nations News service for a show called “Hello, Countrymen, Countrywomen,” a popular program in Afghanistan. Today, her research detailing the persecution of the ethnic Hazara in Afghanistan is work she could never do, let alone publicize, there. Furthermore, no non-Hazara could do this work as well as someone like Mohammadi can.

Safe and unsilenced: Afghan scholars find refuge at US universities

Masuma Mohammadi was a radio reporter for the United Nations News service for a popular news program in Afghanistan called “Hello Countrymen, Countrywomen,” before the Taliban took over the country in August of 2021. Her work as a journalist and women’s rights activist made her a target for the Taliban. She was forced to flee and found refuge in the US, a country she had visited only once, years ago. Mohammadi has been in San Jose, California, with a residency at San Jose State University, for six months now. Her research detailing the persecution of the ethnic Hazara in Afghanistan is work she could never do in her home country.

Faisal Karimi

Faisal Karimi

Faisal Karimi is an established Afghan journalist who helped to build independent media (particularly for women journalists) there over the last 20 years. Since the Taliban regained control, over 230 of these outlets have been closed according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Afghan Independent Journalists Association. Faisal is now researching the "challenges and uncertainties facing independent media outlets under Taliban rule," through a series of interviews with current and former reporters from Afghanistan. His research is meant to shed light on the current conditions of reporting from Afghanistan, the greatest challenges facing Afghan news media, and how Afghan journalists are navigating these challenges. Similarly, his prior professional experience and considerable network bode well for the potential of his project. Faisal was recently named “Journalist of the Month” by the International Journalists Network (August 31, 2022) for his many contributions to Afghan and international journalism, including creation of the Afghan Women’s News Agency.

Faisal's Article Publication

Media Capture Strategies in an Islamic Authoritarian Context: The case of the Taliban, Faisal Karimi

This paper explores the Taliban government's media capture strategies since retaking the country on August 15, 2021, and how journalists and media outlets have responded to these strategies.

SJSU & UCB FAQ for Scholars, Community, and Universities

See our joint FAQ page to address questions regarding the Visiting Scholars Program, resources for Afghans, and information on how universities, law schools, or research programs help right now.

Do you have additional questions?