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January 30, 2008

Afghan MPs support blasphemy death sentence for journalist

A 23-year-old journalist in Northern Afghanistan was sentenced to death in municipal court last week for downloading and distributing allegedly blasphemous material.

Today, members of Afghanistan's upper house of parliament issued a statement affirming the legality of the sentence:

Now the Afghan Senate has issued a statement on the case - it was not voted on but was signed by its leader, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, an ally of President Hamid Karzai.

It said the upper house approved the death sentence conferred on Mr Kambaksh by a city court in Mazar-e-Sharif. [BBC]

The statement also criticized the various governments and organizations that have denounced the sentence. The Senators resent the input of the international community for attempting to pressure Afghan judges as they crack down on blasphemy. 

The journalist was charged and sentenced to death for downloading and distributing information about the status of women in Islamic societies. He never got a lawyer.

At least he still has two rounds of appeals left. According to AP, president Karzai will have the final say over the execution.

So, this is the wonderful democratic government we're propping up in Afghanistan?

Ironically, Karzai appointed Mojaddedi to lead the Afghan National Commission for Peace in Afghanistan in 2005.


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We have a president who claimed in the Padilla case that he can label any one of us an enemy combatant to be imprisoned indefinitely without an attorney.

It isn't surprising that his administration couldn't teach the Afghan government to respect due process.


AND this is the same regime (bush) whose idea of democracy is to railroad a schoolteacher in to prison because porn popped up on a school computer that she was using for the first time.

Still .... this is pretty horrifying.
Is there anything anyone can do?

voxy -

I think the case of "State of Connecticut v. Julie Amero" is a state issue.


It is indeed a Connecticut issue, you illiterate.

--So, this is the wonderful democratic government we're propping up in Afghanistan?--

Compare it to the government that it replaced. It is less bad.

Less bad is the only choice you're going to have in the entire Middle East and in nearby Islamic countries. Unless you've heard of a country that I've missed.

Aw, Phantom, yer just in a bad mood because President Rudy encountered reality today.

You want that crow steamed, boiled, baked or fried?

I'm in a bad mood for a number of reasons, and that is only one of them.

Two blocks from me, is a Lowen's Pharmacy, where a pharmacist took his own life Monday night. Only, maybe he didn't. Could have been the Mob, who did not want him to reveal what he knew about the illegal sale of steroids. Comments on Bay Ridge Rover, and a few at my place.

There are many twists to this one. It is terribly sad for the neighborhood, as the dead man was regarded by all as personally decent.

Less bad is the only choice you're going to have in the entire Middle East and in nearby Islamic countries.

Perhaps, and that’s a problem. The other problem is we’ve got us a president whose thirst for knowledge is generally exceeded by most charcoal briquettes. You remember, the one whose gossamer grasp of Middle Eastern history required the Shia / Sunni schism be explained to him on the eve of his Iraq invasion.

The Afghanistan/Iraq venture was doomed from the start for want of anyone but ignoramuses and clowns among the Alexander the Great wannabees in the White house. Did a single member of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld coterie speak Farsi or Arabic? Had any of them ever spent any time whatsoever in a capacity such as say, a peace corps volunteer anywhere near the Middle East? Their spectacularly obtuse approach to everything pertaining to that part of the world suggests they’re informed mainly by Saudi oil princes, neocon fantasts, and apocalypse crazed, red heifer Christo-crackpots, not necessarily in that order. One gets the impression they never bothered to have anyone in Langley or Foggy Bottom send over any recent editions of the CIA World Factbooks on the countries they intended to invade, or for that matter, even got around to cracking open an encyclopedia.

I would like to think that George Bush is at least slightly surprised by the interesting turns his Middle East projects have taken. No such luck though, his state of the union speech demonstrated that he, his speechwriters, and the rest of the circus freaks surrounding him have no difficulty cherry picking whatever facts and fantasies they need to accommodate their Middle East hallucinations.


I highly recommend Patrick J Buchanan's recent "Day of Reckoning". You may or may not be surprised to learn that he'd be in agreement with your major points, and if anything is far more harsh.

>You want that crow steamed, boiled, baked or fried?

I really don't want to derail this thread -- it's about an extremely important issue.

But as a rabid Rudy Giuliani booster, you should at least admit you were dead fucking wrong about his chances. Taking it right in the teeth and going on is in the guy's image, if never in his practice.

well, I never for a moment doubted W was a moron, unlike most Americans who actually thought he was a good leader for a while after Sept 11, 2001. But insisting on knowledge of Farsi, Arabic (or Pashtun) in order to make decisions about the region is ridiculous. By that standard, you should have a White House comprised of linguists. Oh, nobody speaks Malay? Well, we can't do anything about the coup in Malaysia yesterday.

And by that standard, you have no business expressing an opinion about Afghanistan, or events anywhere other than US, UK, NZ and Australia.

oh, and why are we propping up this government? Geo-politics is not about wringing your hands over some individual injustice, that offends your sensibilities. There are doubtlessly people in Russia killed with government complicity. We should stop buying their oil and gas! Even if it plunges the world into economic depression! The Chinese govt arrested a blogger! Why are we not going to war?! Dr. B, geo-politics is not about what you think is fair or unfair. And Afghans have their own special culture, have a little respect, will ya?

Lindsay, the death sentence would only be incompatible with a democracy if most people in the country were against executing people for the crime of blasphemy. I have no idea whether that is the case or not, but it's worth remembering that democracy does not guarantee human rights, equal justice before the law, or good government--merely majority rule.

Oh, most people in Afghanastan, and countries like it, derive a lot more pleasure from a) watching members of other tribes suffer and b) watching anyone who disgrees or questions with community values suffer than from voting or blathering about empty slogans like change and hope. As opposed to the American left, who prefer a) and b) to common sense, economics, actual legit history (as opposed to herstory, people's history etc etc)

What a bunch of crock Milo and Phantom.

Democracy doesn't guarantee human, ie. civil rights, but the U.S. Constitution/Bill Of Rights does. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner.

But when it comes to Milo and Phantom, we're the bulls and they're the china shop. And in their honor...

Compare it to the government that it replaced. It is less bad.

Oh, really? And what do the people on the ground think?

TONY JONES: You clearly don't have much trust in the Northern Alliance and its collection of fundamentalist tribal leaders. How did they treat women when they were last in power in Kabul?

SAHAR SABAR: When they come into Kabul in 1992, the situation of women gotten worse, and the cases of kidnapping, gang raping them, looting their houses, destroying, killing their husbands, their family members was a daily routine, and that's why the case of committing suicide among young girls was very high.

Many women, they couldn't feel to be secure in their own country and that was the reason that many have left Afghanistan, and even today when they have heard about the Northern Alliance's coming and capturing the cities, they are leaving Afghanistan.

So, in many ways they were worse than the Taliban and in other ways, the Taliban were worse than them, and that's why we believe they were as bad as each other.

Both sides have the same mentality, the same ideology, and we never can forget the Northern Alliance were the first who called democracy its 'infidel', who called the doors of schools "gateways to hell", who destroyed our schools, our universities, our museums, roads, hospitals, everything -- so having this person in mind, we cannot trust them anymore and they cannot really blame the rights that we want to have for women in Afghanistan.

Or you could try this:

After about seven years, there is no peace, human rights, democracy and reconstruction in Afghanistan. On the contrary, the destitution and suffering of our people has doubled everyday. Our people, and even our unfortunate children, fall victim to the Jehadis’ infighting (Baghlan incident), the Taliban’s untargeted blasts and the US/NATO’s non-stop bombardments. The Northern Alliance blood-suckers, who are part of Karzai’s team and have key government posts, continue to be the main and the most serious obstacle towards the establishment of peace and democracy in Afghanistan. The existence of tens of illegal private security companies run by these mafia bands are enough to realize their sinister intentions and the danger they pose.

Human rights violations, crime, and corruption have reached their peak, so much so that Mr. Karzai is forced to make friendly pleas to the ministers and members of the parliament, asking them to "keep some limits"! Accusations about women being raped in prisons were so numerous that even a pro-warlord woman in the parliament had no choice but to acknowledge them.

[My bolds]


Compare it to the government that it replaced. It is less bad.

Less bad is the only choice you're going to have in the entire Middle East and in nearby Islamic countries.

From now on, we'll just take your anti-Muslim bigotry as a given, to save you the trouble of typing your silly screeds. And try telling Pervez Kambakhsh that the current government is less bad. Or, if you prefer, tell the American soldiers who are now getting killed in Afghanistan that they're dying to ensure that the Afghans have an Islamic theocracy that is "less bad."

One last thing: the fact that your local pharmacist was killed doesn't give you the right to toss gratuitous insults at people. If you can't be civil, then just refrain from commenting until your feeling better.

Democracy means rule of the people.

It doesn't only mean majority rule.

A country with majority rule but without civil liberties isn't a democracy.

How does defining democracy as "rule of the people" mean that a country with majority rule but without civil liberties isn't a democracy?

Does that mean that the United States was not a democracy while slavery was legal? Is it a democracy now? Your definition confuses me in the "no true Scotsman" style.

Parse, Afghanistan may qualify as a democracy, despite the fact that you can be condemned to death for blasphemy without ever seeing a lawyer.

My point is that not every democratically elected government is worth defending with American blood and treasure.

Lindsay, be careful. mudkitty was lecturing us a few weeks ago, contending that it is not correct to use "America" when you are talking about a country.

I do agree with your point that the fact that a government is democratically elected doesn't mean that such a government automatically deserves the support of well-minded people.

"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy," said Lincoln.

The men who have condemned this man to death would be his masters; and if a man can be thus condemned for "downloading and distributing information about the status of women in Islamic societies," is he (to say nothing of the women" not a slave?

Popular sovereignty or a majoritarian order don't by themselves suffice to make a democracy, as we now use the term: a constitutional regime of self-limited powers and the rule of law are necessary if such an order is to be "a government of laws, not of men," and not an ochlocracy or "mob-rule" (or, I suspect in this case, a clerical oligarchy in democratic drag.) And the rule of law is not arbitrary or wholly neutral or without content: the Apartheid regime in the old South Africa couldn't qualify because it enacted inequality under the law, the Nazis' Nuremburg Laws subverted instead of contributing to the rule of law because they insulted human dignity. We may suspect that laws that today clash too jarringy with e.g. the half-century-old UN Declaration of Human Rights don't belong to a rule of law but prima facie undermine it. Not enough liberty of expression and conscience amounts to no rule of law -- and no rule of law, no sphere for individuals to gather and disseminate political speech, no democracy. Would Lincoln have called it one?

The Kabul "democracy" survives on a life-line from the international community. Cut-off should be threatened if they continue the neo-Talibanizing and fail to free this man.

--So, this is the wonderful democratic government we're propping up in Afghanistan?--


Blasphemy, or denigrating Islam, is condemned in the Koran. And it is also illegal in every big Arab Middle East/Neighborhood country.

This is not like the almost never enforced blasphemy laws in Western countries. Blaspheme the Prophet, or Islam, as interpreted by the locals --not by you--in a Moslem country, and you're going to prison, or much worse.

It's "anti Muslim bigotry" to point out this fact? Lindsay presents what this unfortunate man faces as something horrible. And she is correct. But the locals do not have a problem with it for the most part. Its sanctioned in their holy book and by centuries of tradition.

Afghanistan is no longer a base for the Taliban, and the life of huge numbers of their people, including the girls who are now being educated, is somewhat better than it was on September 10, 2001. That is undeniable. I'm sorry that some here are unaware of these facts.

You throw around the word "bigotry" when it is not called for, and condemn my use of the word "illiterate" when its veracity is there for anyone to see.

Dock asked me a question, and I answered it. I'm less angry
( less bad! )than I was yesterday, but voxy is still an illiterate.


Turkey is a secular democracy with a thriving economy. They don't allow people to say that Turkey committed genocide in Armenia, but that's no more restrictive than Germany's law against denying the Holocaust. They're more restrictive on civil liberties than the US is, but so is Israel, and both of those countries point to terrorist attacks within their borders justification for their restrictions.

In short, Turkey is the "better than less bad" country you've been searching for. So your comment did not reveal a fact, but an attitude. Muslims are perfectly capable of electing governments that respect human rights. If you don't think that's true, then give us a list of all of the Muslim countries that have sentenced a person to death for blasphemy during the past five years.

If that list doesn't include all of the Muslim nations, then kindly admit that Muslims are not politically monolithic, so your comment attacking Islam for preventing the growth of democracy was nothing more than another manifestation of your bigotry.

And you don't really want to play the "sanctioned by their holy book" game, do you? Do I have to point out all of the evils sanctioned by the Bible to show you how silly that argument is?

Afghanistan is no longer a base for the Taliban, and the life of huge numbers of their people, including the girls who are now being educated, is somewhat better than it was on September 10, 2001. That is undeniable.

The whole point of bringing this case to light was to inform people that Afghanistan is not protecting human rights any better than the Taliban government did. Women can dress a bit less conservatively, but only in Kabul. Women can have jobs in Kabul, but it's legal to discriminate against them. And anyone who questions the alleged Islamic basis for this misogyny can be executed. Afghanistan hasn't improved, they've merely put some cosmetic changes into their laws in order to satisfy their Western backers. And as Dabodius points out, the West can force the Afghan government to respect human rights by threatening a withdrawal of support.

As for your insult, your unapologetic stance just shows what an asshole you are.

Turkey is a secular democracy --for now-- because the Turkish Army has kept a lid on things for a very, very long time.

They also had an Ataturk, which no other Muslim country had to the fortune to have had.

You've given one country, and it's teetering. Where it lands years from now, esp after it is denied EU entry, is anyones guess.

You think it equally bad that Turkey's prohibition against discussing a genocide that the Turks committed bears some equal weight to the German proscription against a genocide that they freely admit that their fathers committed. Well, how about that. That's a swell logic.

I oppose Holocaust denial laws, but I'd not have given equal law to a law enacted against Jew Haters who deny what clearly happened with a law enacted against those who speak the truth.

Democracy and freedom are plants that have not found much of a home in Muslim societies. Most of them have laws against not just blasphemy, but against preaching non-Muslim religion, against any Muslim changing his religion, etc. There's a deep base of intolerance that comes right from the Prophet's mouth.

Who cares about all the hogwash in the Old Testament. The OT is common to both Islam and Christianity, so it does not belong in any honest discussion about those two faiths. Compare the Koran with the Gospels and tell me which is the more peaceful and loving and which is the more warlike.

Aside from these laws, there are country specific laws that are worse still. It is illegal to perform any non-Muslim services in Saudi Arabia. There are no non Muslim houses of worship there. It is against the law for a Christian Church to be built in Egypt, or for any major repair to be made to an existing one, without special govt permission that does not apply to mosques.

Tell me which Christian, Hindu or Buddhist nation that treats their Muslims like the Saudis, Egyptians or other Muslims treat their minorities.

To say that the human rights situation in Afghanistan has not improved betrays a complete and willful ignorance, or illiteracy about that entire part of the world. Voxy truly does have company.

Case dismissed.

-I oppose Holocaust denial laws, but I'd not have given equal weight to-- a law enacted against Jew Haters who deny what clearly happened with a law enacted against those who speak the truth-

bon soir

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