Afghan Journalist Faces Death if Convicted of Blasphemy — and Death If He Is Acquitted

In Afghanistan, journalist Ghaws Zalmay faces the death penalty for printing a translation of the Koran (Qur’an) in in Dari, one of Afghanistan’s official languages. Yet, even if he is acquitted religious leaders are promising that he will still be put to death for his blasphemy as required under Sharia law. It is certainly a good thing that we got the Taliban out of power.

Zalmay was trying to flee to Pakistan when he was caught and charged with 13 counts of blasphemy. Religious leaders accused him of having “written his own Koran” and there have been widespread protest calling for his immediate execution in the name of Islam. Former Prime Minister Ahmadshah Ahmadzai has joined the calls for his execution.

Zalmay only recently received a lawyer — months after his arrest and arraignment — because Afghan lawyers did not want to be accused of supporting a blasphemer. Finally, a brave attorney named Abdulqawi Afzali took the case.

Still, a success in the courtroom may simply lead to a lynching in the street.

This is only the latest example of religious extremism in the new enlightened Afghanistan, click here and here and here. He is also not the first journalist accused of blasphemy, click here.

Ironically, Zalmay was a government spokesperson before he came a blasphemer. He insists that he did not actually translate the Koran but published the translation of another person.

For the full story, click here and here.

16 thoughts on “Afghan Journalist Faces Death if Convicted of Blasphemy — and Death If He Is Acquitted”

  1. The wack job religious hijackers need a check and balacnces. Its the good guys in USA that feed the under previledged etc.
    We are not a war machine. We are the do gooders of planet earth. Taliban are 3rd world nuts. Wake up world. We arent perfect across this pond but we are certianly better than most.
    Kuran interpretation should not be looked upon as criminal. Its freedom of expression, one mans opinion vs. another. We all have choices..or Not.
    My opinion, Taliban are repressor of rights, all rights. Give me a break.
    Beating women, kids, scare tactics, please.

  2. MS; I know some would like to think that the Saudis and the “Oil Cartel” have some nefarious agenda or power, they don’t. After the 1973-74 oil embargo of the US and its allies for providing weapons and money to Israel, the US realized that the Arab Oil Exporters could easily dictate to the US the terms of Middle Eastern peace. Nixon and Kissinger decided to pressure Israel into withdrawing from Syria and thus appeasing the Arabs – who thought that the US would continue to push for a free Palestine. As neither Israel nor the US wanted the creation of Palestine, the US felt it was much easier to support key Arab countries in order to guarantee a continuous, inexpensive flow of oil (the prices had quadrupled during the embargo).

    Since these Arab governments sacrificed the Palestinians, more resentment has been growing against not only Israel who refused one UN resolution to withdraw from occupied Palestine after another, but also against the US AND these Arab governments. The US has thus been required to continue supporting these unpopular governments, not out of love for Israel, but out of the knowledge that if the people ever gained control, the next embargo would be the last. The US economy would collapse and funding for Israel would disappear. So, unfortunately, the Saudis and the oil cartels don’t have the power attributed to them – if they did, Palestine would have returned as a country long ago.

    BTW, as every US administration bombs a country and calls for “regime change”, that’s a warning to Oil Cartel countries that if they don’t play ball, they’re next.

  3. Gyges; There are THREE types of writing known to mankind: prose; poetry; and the Koran. Every Muslim realizes that a translation of the Koran is just that, a translation and is no longer the Koran. Some Muslims like some Christians feel that the Holy Books must be left in the original language and that any translation changes the meaning. For example, a simple translation from “a son of God” to “the son of God” could have great consequences. The majority of Muslims and a majority of Christians believe that translations are acceptable as a means of educating others. I for example cannot read Arabic and would never have understood the Koran if it were not available in English.

    I would point out however that one should respect the laws of the country in which they reside. If I were in a country where rapists have their privates amputated or people who vandalize cars get caned or if the theft of a pizza would be my third strike and mean life in prison, I should be wise enough to obey those laws no matter how or perhaps especially if they are severe.

  4. Zakimar,
    There is much in what you said that I agree with and some areas of disagreement. That the current leadership of the US is exacerbating conflict with the Islamic world is I think obvious. That extremist Muslim fundamentalists represent a tiny minority of Islam also seems true to me. The Neocons and the Christian, Right Wing fundamentalists do appear to want a holy war with Islam. What is less clear though is that the Saudi’s and the Oil Cartel sit behind the scenes manipulating the whole operation.

    This whole thing is about money and power. The religious scams on all sides are merely the ruses used to trick large amounts of innocent people into killing each other, so that the wealthy and powerful make their own “killings” in the marketplace and on their thrones.

    However, the nasty irony of all of this is that those who would first call others “blasphemers” are usually the ones who are the real blasphemers. The Taliban appropriate the intelligence of Islamic thought and the insights of the Koran, contorting it into a means of power and despotism.
    Neocons and some fundamentalist Christians transmogrify Christ’s teachings into a false Gospel of war and greed.

    When Church and State mix, when religious laws prevail over
    the secular, then the usual result is a religion bearing no relation to the vision of its prophets and people killing other people.

  5. Zakimar,

    What exactly is the reason behind the translation ban? Also is it just certain sects of Islam that practice it or is it a widespread practice? I’m genuinely interested. I just wonder how it compares to the various bans on translating the Bible that various Churches have instituted throughout history.

  6. dunbar; you are wrong about: “the World would have to war with a religion to stop what this article is about”. The likes of the Taliban make up less than 1% of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslim population. But every time the US bombs, forces regime change on or props up a dictator in another Muslim country, that percentage rises. Iran was a democracy before the US forced regime change. Afghanistan was fighting Communism until the US trained and gave bin Laden millions of dollars and then set up base in Saudi Arabia, Iraq had a secular government free of Al Qaeda and the likes of the Taliban, now 4 100 US and 4 400 “coalition” troops have died fighting Al Qaeda and “insurgents” there. The US has also increased that number by propping up dictators like Musharif and Mubarak.

    And last but perhaps most importantly, the US gives Israel over $15 000 per Israeli (not counting “loans” and weapons) and gives the Palestinians less than $100 each in “aid”, yet states it’s an impartial peace broker.

  7. dunbar and Bush see things the same as all neocons, that there has to be a war with Islam. The US NEEDS an enemy to keep the Military Industrial Complex (war machine) going. Now that the US feels that Communism is no longer a threat – I can’t wait until the US currency is the Yuan, Islam is the next “logical” choice. The only problem for the US is that there are over 1.6 billion Muslims living all over the world with five countries having more than 100 million Muslims and Indonesia having more than 200 million Muslims.

    Also, if the US were to fight Islam (which is what I feel they are presently doing) instead of just the half dozen or so Islamic countries they’ve attacked or “terrorism” in general, many Muslims will take it upon themselves to fight these “Crusader” all over the world even if they don’t have an army. While no single Muslim group or Islamic country could defeat the US war machine on their own, one tiny group – Al Qaeda has cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars.

    After Afghanistan and Iraq, the US will target Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, perhaps one or two of the former Soviet Republics and at some point the Muslim people will overthrow the US backed dictators and unite against the US. Even if that doesn’t happen, the US will be bankrupt long before they get half way through that list.

    Unlike Bush, Zionists and some Americans and Israelis, I don’t think God takes sides in war, but it’ll be interesting to see how far the US will get in its war with Islam before it goes the way of Rome, the British Empire and the USSR. I would wager eight years if McCain is elected and two generations if Obama can’t turn off the war machine.

  8. zakimar, I get the impression some people are still using the examples of post-WWII Japan and Germany to support the concept of successful regime change, but the analogy doesn’t hold up for reasons dundar mentioned: the underlying ideology (but which is so much more than a religion) and its teachings regarding unbelievers.

  9. When the US forces “regime change”, what does anyone think the best possible outcome could be? Perhaps a country with a leader that has absolute power, has his policies rubberstamped by the elected representatives and ignores the will of the people? Who would want to live in a hellhole like that?

  10. rafflaw,

    It appeared that most were afraid to take the case because of guilt by association. That’s certainly an effective way to get a conviction. The lust for conviction and confessions reminds me of, hummmm, US terror prosecutions. Disgusting.

  11. As usual Dundar you miss the facts of the situation. If you haven’t been reading the Taliban has reconstituted and has gained control of large areas again and this example of heads you die, tail you die is a throwback to the Taliban form of justice. If your illegal President hadn’t invaded Iraq, the Taliban might have been totally dissolved. By the way, have you read the new Rand report that says religous terrorists won’t be defeated using military forces?
    you a right that this gentleman’s attorney is very brave. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is another Taliban style law that punishes the attorney here.

  12. I don’t think that guy should get off. He’s a palgiarizer. I guess where not going to see that comic book version of the Koran.

    His attorney has great courage. All of this is quite dismal. I hope he can get out of there.

  13. Jonathan writes: “It is certainly a good thing that we got the Taliban out of power.”

    Yes, we essentially rid Afganistan of the Taliban, but the World would have to war with a religion to stop what this article is about.

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