Thursday, January 31, 2008

Death Sentence of a Journalist

Words do injustice expressing the disgust and shame regarding this horrendous case of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, an Afghanistani student journalist, who is languishing in prison while awaiting his death sentence handed down by a religious court in Afghanistan for the reason of "downloading an internet report on women's rights."

Sign the petition by clicking here started by UK's The Independent to save this student journalist's life.

Read The Independent's article on this breach of universal civility!

Khaled Hosseini, the famous writer who wrote the memorable novel The Kite Runner a few years ago, just published a timely article in The Wall Street Journal. Here are a few excerpts from his article:
The real questions that must be asked are: Is post-Taliban Afghanistan a country that executes citizens for peacefully questioning some aspect of Islam? What about all the rhetoric of Afghan freedom and democracy? Wouldn't executing Mr. Kaambakhsh render it embarrassingly hollow? For how can Afghanistan claim that it is on the path to being a free, democratic state, and then put to death one of its own citizens for reasons that evoke, rather chillingly, the darkest days of the Taliban?

In 2006, the country had such an opportunity with the case of Abdul Rahman, a 41-year-old Afghan man who was put on trial and faced a death sentence for the crime of converting to Christianity. His case came to an end when, under tremendous international pressure that included a plea to President Karzai from Pope Benedict XVI, Afghan lawmakers allowed Mr. Rahman to flea to Italy where he was granted asylum. At the time, I thought that moderate Afghan leaders had wasted an opportunity to stand their ground and demonstrate their regime's respect for freedom of thought, religion and expression -- the pillars of any democracy.

Mr. Kaambakhsh's case presents another opportunity for Afghanistan to demonstrate that ruling by the strict word of Shariah -- at the expense of tolerance, compassion and freedom -- is a thing of the past. It is a chance for Afghanistan to show the world that it will abide by the fundamental principles of democracy, and to validate its repeated calls for financial support from the international community.

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