Thursday, January 24, 2008

Afghan Journalist Given Death Sentence For 'Blasphemy'.

Early this morning, I went to Dr. James McInerney's blog, Science,Society, Stuff where he put up a link to a BBC story about an Afghan journalist jailed and given a death sentence for blaspheming Islam and the Koran. The BBC story says,
"Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, was arrested in 2007 after downloading material from the internet relating to the role of women in Islamic societies."
The origins of the BBC story comes from the Reporters Without Borders web site, which reports,
"At a news conference yesterday, Hafizullah Khaliqyar, the deputy provincial prosecutor in charge of the case, threatened to imprison all journalists who support Kambakhsh, adding that “Kambakhsh has confessed to the crime and must be punished.”
Kambakhsh was supposedly arrested because of a controversial article commenting on verses in the Koran about women, although it has now been established that he was not the article’s author. Rahimullah Samandar, the head of the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association, said he was in fact arrested because of articles written by his brother, Ibrahimi, criticising the provincial authorities."
An article on the Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty web site agrees that the death sentence may be motivated more by politics rather than religion,
" ' We feel very strongly that this is a complete fabrication on the part of the authorities up in Mazar, designed to put pressure on Parwez's brother Yaqub, who has done some of the hardest-hitting pieces outlining abuses by some very powerful commanders in Balkh and the other northern provinces, ' IWPR country manager Jean MacKenzie says.
MacKenzie notes that authorities in Balkh had searched Ibrahimi's computer and taken contact details of sources, adding that "we feel that what is happening with Parwez is not a very veiled threat against Yaqub Ibrahimi."
It appears that these Afghan thugs will use anything at their disposal to end dissent. I'm sure the "blaspheming Islam" ploy is just a red herring to stifle criticism from the Afghan population.

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