sharia in Afghanistan: 20 years for downloading

Sayed_Parwiz_Kambakhsh.jpg Sayed Parwiz Kambakhsh, sentenced not for downloading porn, but for printing an internet article about Islam and women’s rights, and adding comments on the Prophet’s shortcomings on the subject

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Supreme Court in Afghanistan has upheld [in a secret decision made last month, but revealed only yesterday] a 20-year prison sentence for an Afghan university student journalist accused of blasphemy.

. . . .

The student, Parwiz Kambakhsh, 24, from northern Afghanistan, was arrested in 2007 and sentenced to death for blasphemy [following a two-minute trial; the sentence was commuted to 20 years last October] after accusations that he had written and distributed an article about the role of women in Islam [my italics]. Mr. Kambakhsh has denied having written the article and said he had downloaded it from the Internet. His family and lawyers say he has been denied a fair trial.

This story in today's Times headlines only one of an increasing number of incidents within "occupied" Afghanistan, including murder and imprisonment, which reflect appalling threats to personal freedoms, especially those affecting women, and the ordinary functions of the media, even within the capital itself. The threats come from the Taliban, Islamists, the traditional conservative patriarchy, and even from official government, political and less extreme religious circles.

Can someone tell me again why we're in Afghanistan?

It's been seven and a half years since we invaded that country and sharia* is still, literally, the law of the land. This place is on the other side of the world, but its where our new President wants to introduce a larger American armed presence than that which we have already installed there, and that mindless military solution looks like it's about to become the model for our next overseas adventure, the occupation of one of our allies, Pakistan (whose government has already handed over a good part of its own territory to the Taliban and sharia law) in our continuing "war against terrorism". In the beginning it was all about Bush, but in the end it's just going to be Obama and the ghost of LBJ.

Occupying these countries will not make them do what we want them to do, and who doesn't already know that?

Looking to the west, all the way across Iran to Iraq, we also learned today that the courageous reporter and patriot who insulted Bush fifteen months ago in Baghdad by throwing two shoes at the visiting American commander/comqueror has been sentenced to three years in prison. I would say he's lucky he wasn't shot on the spot, executed, "disappeared", or given 20 years, but this is no way to treat political protest, even in an "Islamic, democratic, federal parliamentary republic" assembled by clueless occupiers. Bush himself, no enemy of secret trials or torture, responded, after ducking the shoes, "that's what people do in a free society, draw attention to themselves". Zaidi could be heard screaming outside the room.

One more thought to ponder: Take a look at a map of the Middle East and imagine what you would think about these developments, and the other political and military arrangements an aggressive U.S. empire has made with countries in the area if you were responsible for the security of the proud and ancient people of Iran.

feeling surrounded

Unless you have a very strong stomach, don't search Google images "sharia". (I made the mistake of going there because I was hoping to find a generic picture of the subject to illustrate this entry.)

[first image from Getty Images; second from the New York Times]