Afghan editor sentenced for blasphemy over women's rights - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
October 25, 2005

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Afghan editor sentenced for blasphemy over women's rights

-25/10/05

Human rights campaigners and advocates of religious freedom have reacted with anger and dismay to a two-year prison sentence meted out to an Afghan journalist convicted of blasphemy.

Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, who edits Haqooq-i-Zan (ëWomen's Rightsí) magazine, was sentenced on Saturday for articles propagating equality between the sexes and questioning harsh punishments ñ like death by stoning ñ reserved for Muslims who convert away from their faith.

The sentence was imposed on the recommendation of the Ulama Council in Afghanistan, a group of senior Islamic clerics. They declared that it was necessary to thwart ëapostasyí

The case is causing a particular political storm because President Hamid Karzaiís own adviser on religious affairs filed the complaint against Nasab.

Mr Karzai has been feted in Europe and was given a standing ovation at the Labour Party conference in Britain several years ago, after prime minister Tony Blair arranged for him to be there to quell anti-war dissenters.

But in spite of democratic progress in the country, observers have long been concerned about the return of warlordism, the resurgence of the Taliban and the maintenance of repressive policies on women and civic rights in Afghanistan.

The blasphemy case has caused the Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent group that makes policy recommendations to the US government, to express concern.

The commission says that the 2004 Afghanistan constitution does not protect religious freedom or guarantee protections against those accused of blasphemy or apostasy.

Two journalistsí advocacy groups, the Afghanistan Independent Journalistsí Association and the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, have criticised the actions taken against Mr Nasab.

Questions have also been raised by lawyers about the validity of the court and its decision.

The National Union of Journalists in the UK, whose members frequently campaign for the freedom of international media workers, is likely to join the protests, as are international journalistsí associations.

Find books now:

Afghan editor sentenced for blasphemy over women's rights

-25/10/05

Human rights campaigners and advocates of religious freedom have reacted with anger and dismay to a two-year prison sentence meted out to an Afghan journalist convicted of blasphemy.

Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, who edits Haqooq-i-Zan (ëWomen's Rights') magazine, was sentenced on Saturday for articles propagating equality between the sexes and questioning harsh punishments - like death by stoning - reserved for Muslims who convert away from their faith.

The sentence was imposed on the recommendation of the Ulama Council in Afghanistan, a group of senior Islamic clerics. They declared that it was necessary to thwart ëapostasy'

The case is causing a particular political storm because President Hamid Karzai's own adviser on religious affairs filed the complaint against Nasab.

Mr Karzai has been feted in Europe and was given a standing ovation at the Labour Party conference in Britain several years ago, after prime minister Tony Blair arranged for him to be there to quell anti-war dissenters.

But in spite of democratic progress in the country, observers have long been concerned about the return of warlordism, the resurgence of the Taliban and the maintenance of repressive policies on women and civic rights in Afghanistan.

The blasphemy case has caused the Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent group that makes policy recommendations to the US government, to express concern.

The commission says that the 2004 Afghanistan constitution does not protect religious freedom or guarantee protections against those accused of blasphemy or apostasy.

Two journalists' advocacy groups, the Afghanistan Independent Journalists' Association and the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, have criticised the actions taken against Mr Nasab.

Questions have also been raised by lawyers about the validity of the court and its decision.

The National Union of Journalists in the UK, whose members frequently campaign for the freedom of international media workers, is likely to join the protests, as are international journalists' associations.

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