Afghanistan: death sentence for downloading, distributing report on oppression of women

Authorities in Afghanistan have sentenced a 23-year-old journalism student to death for having downloaded and shared copies of a report criticizing the oppressive treatment of women in some Islamic societies. Snip from Wired News Threat Level blog:
Sayed Pervez Kambaksh (at right), who is a journalism student at Balkh University and a writer for Jahan-e Naw, was sentenced last October after downloading a report from a Farsi website that criticized Islamic fundamentalists who misrepresent statements in the Koran to justify the oppression of women. Kambaksh was arrested after someone filed a complaint against him. He is accused of blasphemy for distributing the report to other students and teachers at his school.

He was tried by a sharia court (which overseas Islamic religious law) and was not allowed legal representation, according to news reports. The Afghan Senate passed a motion this week supporting the sentence, according to the British newspaper The Independent.

Link.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF.org) has a statement on the case here, and a petition for Kambaksh's release here.

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  1. This is a terrible shame, but you’re doing an injustice to your readers by sensationalizing the headline. Kambaksh was charged with blasphemy for *distributing* the report, which is quite different from “death sentence for downloading report on oppression of women”. It’s difficult to have a real discussion on the crimes of sharia when people inject half-truths into the debate. That said, this is entirely consistent with Islamic law, which seems to be at the developmental stage that Christianity was at during the crusades. All five recognized schools of thought on Islamic jurisprudence believe that if a sane Muslim converts away from Islam, he must be put to death. I’m certainly no xenophobe, but it would be easier for western nations to integrate and cooperate with Islamic ones if their legal systems didn’t all resemble something from the 1200s.

  2. I think it’s pretty clear in the article itself that the charge was blasphemy from the distribution (which actually, should be applied to the article writer, not the distributor), but in itself demonstrates the outright insanity of particular elements of that legal system. I don’t find it a dent on Islam in particular, but largely on the overt lack of due process to determine whether it actually is or isn’t blasphemy between the simple disagreement over interpretation.

    PS — typo correction in the article quote, “(which overSEES Islamic religious law)”

  3. “That said, this is entirely consistent with Islamic law…”

    Hemi, I have to disagree with you there. The article states that he was sentenced to death for blasphemy, not for converting away from Islam. This means that the decision of whether or not he was blaspheming is the issue at hand, and would not be covered by clearly by sharia. The court would have to make an interpretation. It’s not so cut and dry.

  4. I have to agree with #4. I studied comparative human rights law as an undergrad, and there is a big difference.

    The analysis that #1 offers, that Islam:

    seems to be at the developmental stage that Christianity was at during the crusades

    is totally misplaced.

    Like #4 said,

    It’s not so cut and dry.

  5. I though that Sharia courts were supposed to try to avoid giving the most severe sentences, give warnings, etc. Is this representative of a recent trend toward a harsher interpretation of the law? Because that would be unfortunate.

  6. Articles like this make me side with Hitchens. All religions are horsecrap but Islam is a threat to civilization.

  7. Islam is not a threat to civilization.

    Fundamentalist freaks are the problem, but even they don’t ‘threaten civilization.’ For f*ck’s sake: sentencing someone to death for free speech is f’d up, of course, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t threaten civilization.

    Our screwed up military under the command of the most evil person in the world today has murdered many many many people in Iraq. It is screwed up, but even that doesn’t ‘threaten civilization.’

    Screw Sharia, of course, but in pure evil it is a step or three behind American Fundamentalist ‘Christians.’

  8. To begin withj: the death sentence for apostasy is completely against liberal norms, and is absolutely unjust.

    To be sentenced to death for apostasy, you have to have takfir declared against you. The four Sunni madh’habs generally don’t approve of takfir except in the most extreme cases; it’s seen as encouraging intra-religious strife (fitna).

    Generally speaking, distributing a report criticizing interpretations of Islam would not trigger a declaration of takfir unless (A) it’s a local anti-Shi’a impulse, or (B) the judges are hardcore Salafis. Other news reports on this say that several of the accused’s classmates said he had openly mocked God and Muhammad, and the report that he distributed was only part of the overall charge. (Another news story says that the report also questioned the validity of the Qur’an.)

    This is exceptionally bad, and all the worse in that it’s a sentence levied and soon to be carried out by the state we put into power. Now that the Meshrano Jirga has put their stamp on the verdict, I seriously doubt that Karzai is willing to let this guy go free — he’s had enough trouble with Salafists, without adding non-Salafi conservatives to the mix. This kid’s a sacrifice to our incompetence and the power-hunger of local clerics.

    Makes you wish for the old days of the PDPA. They may have been Commie stooges, but at least the only people they were killing over doctrinal differences were each other.

  9. To quote my girlfriend: “Didn’t we blow up Afghanistan so this wouldn’t happen?”

    I kind of agree. This is awful.

  10. Ok #9, a thought experiment:

    A) In a community populated by an overwhelming majority of self identified fundamentalist Christians, you publicly address a popular religious leader by telling him “The Gospels are a step or three more purely evil than Sharia”.

    B) In a community populated by an overwhelming majority of self identified fundamentalist Muslims, you publicly address a popular religious leader by telling him “Sharia is a step or three more purely evil than the Gospels”.

    QUESTION: In which community are you more likely to not be killed as a direct result of what you said?

    You might also note that somebody today has indeed murdered many many many people in Iraq, and it wasn’t the US Military.

    Is Islam a threat to civilization? Maybe not in the existential sense, but point me to a modern civilization that has actually been improved by a close association with Islam.

  11. #13: Your flaw is in implying a part represents the whole.

    The United States, I think, has been improved by a close association with Islam. Just not the part of Islam you insist on calling the whole.

  12. To #15 – In what way has the US been improved by a close association with Islam? I don’t see what I’d call a close association. Simply welcoming individuals who adhere to the religion as equal citizens isn’t exactly a close association.

    I understand what you’re saying about singling out the more violent and destructive part of an ideology as representative of the whole, and I used to have a great deal more sympathy with that idea… but honestly – the large majority of self identified fundamentalist Muslims really do seem to buy in to these violent and destructive rules and actions. A very large amount of Muslims who maybe don’t self-identify as fundamentalist seem to willingly grant the more fundamentalist violent ones moral and religious authority. I don’t see any large, outspoken movements to rein this hateful destructive behavior in. And I am paying attention, I am reading widely and looking actively at multiple sources of news from around the world. I don’t see it.

    I don’t think it is intellectually honest to deny that a widespread and deeply rooted anti-civil, hate fueled streak runs deep in all Islam. Fundies act on it, but the majority seem to tacitly condone it.

    I know that not all individuals are like this, and the Muslims I know here certainly aren’t – but I’d say the subset of Muslims who go to the trouble to immigrate to the US are probably the cream of the enlightened minority within this religion. Most do not appear to be so enlightened.

  13. I’ll second Grey’s statement. I live near Dearborn, which has one of the largest populations of Muslims and people of Middle Eastern origins outside of the Middle East. The perspective I’ve gained by living with and interacting with people with all sorts of different religious and cultural backgrounds has been incredibly valuable.

  14. Frankly, I wish all the death sentences for things like apostasy, homosexuality, insultings-of-the-prophet and having-the-NERVE-to-be-raped could be amended instead to be sentences of exile to the United States.

    I mean, really, same result for the fundamentalist killers – the people they hate will be gone – and big plus to the US – we get a lot of new demonstrably courageous freethinkers.

    Win win, eh?

  15. The biggest thing that erks me is that this happend in Afghanistan.

    The war in Afghanistan is not a popular one for Canadians. Many Canadians feel that the our actions to improve the country are having little or no effect. Sure there is democracy there now… but if you can get killed over your thoughts on religon it just makes me think ‘what’s the point?’.

  16. BillCunningham – I guess you are right, no one has ever been improved by a close association with Islam.

    Except, I don’t know, that whole ability to count with reasonable numbers thing. And maybe the whole ‘Western Civilization’ which, if one is honest, is actually Eastern Civilization which thankfully the ‘East’ preserved while we in the west were busy living through the dark ages.

    But I guess it is okay because after we pulled ourselves up with their boot straps we went to freaking war against them, and had inquisitions and shit.

    Bah. Fundamentalist Christianity sucks rocks.

  17. I suppose I could arrive at an acommodation with the most conservative mullah.So long as he is willing acknowledge that the pinnacle of human culture and civilization is Invader Zim.

  18. Interwebs is good make learnings, yes?

    “In his article “The Cultural Contribution of Islam to Christendom,” T .C. Young says: “The great cultural debt we have for Islam since we, Christians, used, within this millenium, to travel to Islamic capitals and to Moslem teachers to learn from them arts, sciences, and the philosophy of human life should always be brought to mind. Amongst this is our classical heritage which Islam preserved in the best way possible until Europe was once again able to understand it and to look after it. All this must blend into the spirit with which we, Christians, turn towards Islam, carrying to it our cultura1, spiritual gifts. Let’s then go to it with a feeling of equality to pay Islam an old debt. We will not overstep the bounds of justice if we pay back what we owe Islam by winning it over. We will be true Christians only if we forget about the conditions of exchange, and we give for the sake of love and gratitude(14).”

  19. #20 – I very specifically asked about what modern civilization has been improved by close association with Islam.

    I’m aware of the mathematical contributions of medieval Islamic thinkers – but how long has it been since Islamic culture rewarded free and scientific thought?

    I’m aware that medieval Islam preserved the books of the ancient philosophers, but how long has it been since Islamic culture accorded respect to scientific, enlightened thought.

    It isn’t much of an argument in favor of your ideology when the medieval iteration of it was more open and enlightened than the modern one.

    And the Inquisition? Really? That was some huge setback for Islam? If I remember right, Muslim armies invaded and conquered Spain, and these conquerers were eventually expelled. I don’t think the post-expulsion inquisition was much of a problem for the majority of Muslims in the world, and certainly Muslims weren’t the exclusive targets of it.

    If the worst example of Fundamentalist Christianity you can throw out is from the middle ages, and the best examples of Islam you can cite are also from the middle ages, you’re not doing a good job of convincing me I’m wrong about the present.

  20. …You know, I thought the other reason we kicked the shit out of the Taliban and liberated Afghanistan was to prevent atrocities like this from happening? Don’t we still have troops over there who could free this guy?

    Bottom Line: If there’s a reason the Muslim “world” fears the West, it’s because we’re endangering their “right” to rape, maim and murder their own people for really retarded reasons just because some decrepit old frackwit claiming to channel “Allah” says it’s okay to do so.

  21. The biggest thing that irks me is that this happened in Afghanistan…Many Canadians feel that the our actions to improve the country are having little or no effect.

    In the last couple of days, there have been quite a few news stories describing Afghanistan as a “failed state”. Basically NATO has admitted that the whole thing has been a disaster and that they see no hope of resolving the problems or any future for Afghanistan. So, apparently, your opinion is shared at the highest levels. Sometimes it sucks to be right.

  22. When I read about such things happening in the Middle East, beheadings and the like, for things we take for granted , like free speech, blasphemy, and fornication, it makes me upset. We have to be vigilant, here, in the West, so that we will always have rights to say what we want, blaspheme as we please, and, especially fornicate however we choose. Seriously, Capital Punishment anywhere, for what ever reason, is wrong. My country, the U.S. is a prime purveyor of capital punishment – usually for murderers and stuff, I guess China is way up there too – and they’re officially an atheist nation. I thought our war with Afghanistan (and the Taliban ) was supposed to allow for the spreading of freedom, blasphemy and fornication? What happened ?

  23. This is ridiculous, and I’m curious to see anyone defending shari’a law even to the tone of “it’s not a cut and dry case.” Punishment for apostasy is thoughtcrime. This is absolutely against the foundation of all western thought. How many wars did we fight to achieve this? It’s not something up for debate. If you disagree, find new culture plz thx.

    This goes for all religious fundamntalists. It’s becoming harder and harder for a secularist like me to have hope for the future.

  24. #9- I would say that any society which culls those intelligent enough to question its absurdly mythological foundation is not only a threat By systematically imposing a death sentence on anyone with a modicum of intellect Islam is threatening not only civilization but the human race as a whole.

    I hate the way religions have warped mankind and have inculcated a sense of inspired barbarism. Evolution has brought us to believe that killing is wrong, but only through religion can killing be justified for divine ends. The rest of the civilized world has castrated these dogmas in the name of a more diverse social contract benefitting all participants. However, the Mohametans slay until only those stupid or spineless enough to agree with their backward principles remain. That was the foundation of their faith and it continues to this day unimpeded by the progress of the rest of mankind.

  25. things we take for granted, like free speech, blasphemy, and fornication

    If you take fornication for granted, your social life is way better than mine.

    Seriously, the Soviets were in Afghanistan for a long time, trying to force them to be good little Soviets. Then we went in trying to force them to be us. How can a nation evolve when it’s occupied or invaded for decade after decade? When has foreign intervention anywhere by anybody ever created long term stability? It just pisses people off. Western intervention, starting with Napoleon in Egypt, has only served to push the Islamic world further into the Jihad mindset.

  26. a-hem*… “How Fairly Recent Islam Has Helped the West, By Dr. T. Akuan, MOLPhd:

    Islam in the middle east has greatly profited the non-muslim west by helping keep the development of native democracy stunted through misapplication of certain religious teachings. The top-down patriarchal authority structure was easily corrupted for the benefit of foreign oil companies and also lent itself to the installation of various stooges (The Shah, Saddam Hussein etc). The madrassa tradition has also proved useful to maintaining a squabbling middle east incapable of defending the very oil under its feet.

    The End

  27. I’m curious to see anyone defending shari’a law…

    It’s religious law. Strict interpretation of religious law for most religions involves torturing and killing people for acting like people. There are still people in jail in the US for breaking anti-sodomy laws. We should probably focus on keeping (our already marginal) separation of church and state here before we go looking to fix Afghanistan.

  28. Takuan, I love how every defense of Islam you and others try to mount only displays obviously, and on it’s face, how bankrupt and destructive the ideology is.

    Though you clearly mean to be sardonic, I’ll answer the serious point beneath it – I don’t believe that western civilization has been improved by the collusion (probably unintentional, but nonetheless mutually supportive) of big oil and Islam in keeping the people sitting on huge oil deposits ignorant and powerless. To whatever degree this circumstance keeps oil cheap it has not benefited Western Civ, as artificially priced resources warp behavior away from reality, and behavior always must snap back to reality eventually… the further it is warped, the more violent the snap. And most of us can see there is a big snap a-comin’.

    So, remind me again of how this example illustrates how a modern civilization has been improved by close association with Islam?

  29. bottom line; no one with guns outside Afghanistan gives a tuppenny damn if they rape and eat their womenfolk and fornicate with goats- so long as they shut their bearded mouths and stay the hell out of the way of the oil pipeline.

  30. Takuan, and that (#34) justifies a religious judiciary who sentences a man to death for distributing critical thought?

    I’m with Woolie and Urinal Pooper (eesh!) – I’m stunned to find so many people so vigorously apologizing this heinous behavior as “not so cut and dry” (#5), and otherwise contorting themselves to defend a religion which every day in the open commits the same crimes for which people continuously revile Christianity for having commited in the Middle Ages, when elsewhere on Boing-Boing no tolerance is afforded atrocities of copyright enforcement or attempts by the US or Canadian government to limit freedom of expression through support of corporate interests.

    Why is freedom of speech good for us, but “not so cut and dry” for Afghanis?

  31. I was on top.

    Where did the idea emerge that I defend Islam? I thought I was pretty clearly on record as being subject to execution for blasphemy in every country on Earth.

    I do believe people are bound to work out their own destiny. Life in Afghanistan sucks. It is THEIR life however. They don’t need us. Or want us. If Afghan men behave as if they hate Afghan women, it is up to Afghan mothers to change that. Every cynical western invasion of that part of the world labelled as mission civilatrice has been about plunder and power.

  32. I will be thought naive, and I feel lonely here saying this. But I think all killing is wrong and capital (sp?) punishment is murder.

  33. I do believe people are bound to work out their own destiny.

    There isn’t a word powerful enough to signal the extent of my agreement with that. So I’ll say something cheesy. Throw the fucking ring into the fire, because you can’t use it without destroying everything that you claim to love. You can only have peace when you stop shoving your own ideas down the throats of the rest of the world.

  34. Heh – you’re right Dr. T, I think I’m lumping you in too much with Rich Gibson and Antinous. I apologize for implying you were an apologist. :)

    FWIW, the current occupation of Afghanistan was started specifically to punish and rout out the Taliban sponsors of Al Q, which it did appear to succeed at for a while, until the EYE was turned from the BALL.

    At any rate, Afghanistan wasn’t about plunder. Maybe power a bit, but I feel that was justified under the circumstances.

    NOW, it’s a mess. Didn’t have to be, though.

  35. My last post for the night:

    Antinous:
    “You can only have peace when you stop shoving your own ideas down the throats of the rest of the world.”

    Original Article:
    “Authorities in Afghanistan have sentenced a 23-year-old journalism student to death for having downloaded and shared copies of a report criticizing the oppressive treatment of women in some Islamic societies.”

    Freedom of speech. Human rights. Some ideas are are worth disturbing the peace over.

  36. Some ideas are are worth disturbing the peace over.

    1,000,000 Iraqis dead since we invaded. Peace disturbed. Fundamentalist mentality quadrupled. Same deal in Afghanistan. Same deal in Vietnam. Soon to be the same story in Iran. We’ve tried your way. It didn’t work. Western intervention is the best recruiting tool that Al Qaeda was ever given.

  37. “I don’t believe that western civilization has been improved by the collusion (probably unintentional, but nonetheless mutually supportive) of big oil and Islam in keeping the people sitting on huge oil deposits ignorant and powerless.”

    Hardly unintentional — Wahabist Islam has been the rhetorical legitimation for the Sa’udi regime since the 1700s. After the founding of the third Sa’udi state, the development of close American ties (which encompasses such touchy subjects as American families and soldiers in the kingdom and American support for Israel), and the notoriously dissolute activities of the royal family, it’s been virtually the only legitimating factor. Hence their worldwide da’wa of their peculiar form of Islam, and its pernicious effects.

    We encouraged it because we felt that an arch-conservative Islam would create (to use an old phrase from the Carter administration) a “crescent of crisis” that would put pressure on the neighboring provinces of the Soviet Union. Hell, in the 1970s and 1980s, Israel supported Hamas because they thought it would counterbalance Fatah, militarily if not politically.

    The old calculation was that revolutionary Islam was a concern to domestic regimes in majority-Muslim countries. It threatened Nasser, which we liked, and the Shah, which we didn’t. International violence, in Israel and beyond, was easily explained as the work of state-backed actors like Syria’s al-Sa’iqah or Iranian-supported Hizb Allah. And when the evidence began to prove otherwise — that radicalism had metastasized — our political leaders decided to ignore it and downgrade Clinton’s ad hoc counterterror operations in favor of anti-China alarmists.

    Nonetheless, there’s a vast difference between radical Islamism, conservative Islam, and the way Islam is practiced in most of the world. The first is a dangerous ideology, if not the threat to civilization it’s portrayed as; the second is illiberal and repressive but not destabilizing as the former ideology is; and neither really relates to the way most Muslims live and have lived their lives.

  38. #43- no, it wasn’t the same ideal in afghanistan, that’s where the major betrayal ensues… they were ruled by the taliban and the rest of the civilized world was rallying for it to stop. As it turns out, that didn’t work out like we hoped.

  39. well Mr Poop, why did America train and arm bin-Laden and help the Taliban AND fund the madrassa schools that produced the present crop of loons?

  40. Watchful Babbler,

    Nice analysis. I remember protesting against the Trilateral Commission c. 1980. Nobody had the faintest idea who they were or why we were demonstrating against them, but their little chess game has turned into our current nightmare. Nations make poor pawns.

  41. You see. . . the thing about blasphemy is, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. The report the student downloaded says (in a sense) that those who mistreat women are blasphemers, as they twist the Koran to suit their desires. No?

  42. Ill Lich,

    That’s sort of the point. It’s not really about religion. It’s about social control, financial control, controlling your wife, etc. A Shari’a court could have given this guy a slap on the wrist, but they didn’t because they have a political point to prove. They’re in the midst of a war and they probably think that we’re trying to turn the good muslims of Afghanistan into Britney Spears clones. So they’re sending a strong message, but it’s a political message, not a religious one. Is religion ever really about religion?

  43. #46 the funding of the taliban was a vestige of the cold war; it was the same reason we ignored and reviled the world’s largest democracy (india). However, destroying the taliban was/should be a global effort based on much higher ideals.

  44. the junkie down the street in your city is right now shooting up the heroin the Taliban HAD successfully repressed – that the “liberation” now produces in record poppy crops.

  45. Some of you seem confused. The invasion of Afghanistan wasn’t to eradicate Sharia law. It’s not our business or even within our capability to turn their medieval court system into something modern. That’s a cultural problem and we can’t fix that. If Canada sent 50,000 more troops, that much would still be broken.

    What we can do is keep the Taliban from coming back. The Taliban were even worse — they would enforce the strictest interpretations of Islamic law, including making sure no women went to school and any idols got blown up (especially large, historical landmarks built by people from another religion).

    The wars being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are really wars of tenacity. Whichever side gives up first loses. Neither side can afford to lose. If we lose, terrorism has a new special place to flourish. If they lose, concepts like Sharia law and strapping bombs to children will fade away as their cause loses support.

  46. Klokwerk,

    Nobody here likes the Taliban (I hope). I’m a faggot. It’s certainly not in my personal interest to support them. Some of us just think that the way that we’re going about it seems to be making them stronger rather than making them go away.

    The wars being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are really wars of tenacity. Whichever side gives up first loses.

    They can’t lose. They have millions of eight-year-olds ready to blow themselves up. They can’t lose. So we have to find a solution other than ‘winning’.

  47. Algebra was developed by Indian scholars, as was most of what Europe got from the Arabs. Arabs have basically always been barbarian conquerors, just like the Anglo-Saxons that make up most of my family tree.

  48. I have seen plenty of people who benefit from a close association with Islam. I have seen young people headed for early death in gang and drug culture who turned their lives around when they became Muslim. I know of prisoners who find self-discipline and a sense of dignity, and in a way that does not pander to the authorities who would rather see false Christians than true Muslims. I have had the surprise of my life at one young man who becoming Muslim went from ho’this and bitch’that to someone protective, showing love and respect to the mother of his children. And it helps the young women too, when they learn to more truly value their bodies, no longer dressing so as to turn-on every stranger who looks at her. I am not a Muslim and my temperament does not fit me for any religion, but you better believe I heave a sigh of relief if I hear a Muslim family is moving in because I know they’re not gonna play loud music, cause a disturbance or have strange people in and out at all hours. Is this for the benefit of civilization? Some people would say it doesn’t count because I am talking about people who do not represent what their civilization has to offer. Well, if you want to know who is benefitting from Islam, maybe this is where you have to look, at those who are the rejects of your so-called civilization.

  49. “…Screw Sharia, of course, but in pure evil it is a step or three behind American Fundamentalist ‘Christians.'”

    RIGHT. How many heads had Fallwell lopped off, and how many tongues has Benn Hinn ripped out? You’re a #$^%^% moron.

  50. #62 – Anglo-Saxons *were* barbarians approximately 1500 years ago. Their coming to the island of Britain was bitterly opposed by the “native” Britons, who lost the struggle and were pushed into farthest,marginal areas of the island like Wales, and Cornwall. A blink of an eye ago against the vast backdrop of history.

  51. In the first place, Islamism is what this “debate” should be about. Second, there’s a big difference between the different sects of Islam, so we can’t even talk about it as a whole without making terrible assumptions and mistakes.

    This whole “clash of civilizations” idea is so #$^%^% manufactured that many of us here are buying it wholesale. The world is too dynamic to break down into a handful of civilizations. It’s totally anecdotal and an oversimplification. Talk about barbarism! That idea is absolutely base.

    Like my buddy Edward said, “Orientalism is… a significant dimension of modern political and intellectual culture,” and I very much see it unfolding here.

  52. Why can’t the debate be about the mess in Afghanistan (and elsewhere in that region) being a result of external interference?

  53. @JEFF… you’ve got me worried about you, man. You do realize that all humans share less genetic difference than you share with a chimpanzee? There’s not some people that came from educated, peaceful, stock and others than came from barbarian stock. It doesn’t work that way. We are all the same.

    @JAKE0748… if you look at the countries who still have capital punishment, the list is like: Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, China, United States. And our Western allies are not on the list. That speaks for itself.

  54. Seems like President Bush failed the troops and American people in Afghanistan, and continues to lie when he includes Afghanistan as an example of spreading Democracy.

    Shouldn’t he resign?

  55. #61: Substitute “Scientology” for “Islam”, and your post reads exactly the same.

    The ends do not justify the means.

  56. Here’s my thought.

    We round up all the Neo-Nazis, racist skinheads, Christian Fundies on the level of “Reverend” Phelps, Klansman, Muslim Extremists and the rest, drop them on an island to fight to the death while the rest of the world moves on its merry way…stopping only long enough to bomb the island.

    Let’s be real for a moment. Hate, bigotry and ignorance breed more of the same. It seems easier to teach someone to hate, than it is to teach someone who hates to get past their own bigotry.

    Yes, it is easy to point the finger at Radical Islam and call them hate filled death mongers. But really? Sad as it is to say, it is part of the human condition.

    We tend to think that we are so advanced when really? We’re simply primates fighting for territory against groups who are different from us. Whether it is Latino gangs in LA shooting people because of their skin, or Whites in Texas dragging people to death behind pickup trucks.

    Certainly, these occurrences aren’t ultimately widespread, but I feel that the reason they aren’t is because of the thin skin of civilization that so many people wear. I’ve met a wide number of bigots who I fear would gladly do the same things if they thought they could get away with it.

    For this sort of thing to end, it will take change on a GLOBAL scale. Frankly, I don’t see that happening.

  57. @XOPL… I KNOW that the US is on the list of countries that still execute people. I am saying that I believe the practice is wrong and barbaric no matter WHERE it happens.

  58. @ #71: That’s a horrible idea.

    We should ship them to another planet, THEN nuke them to hell.

  59. I enjoy freedom of speech in the US and I think it is good that there is outrage over this because international pressure may help the politicians act more lenient on the prisoner.

    While I agree that people living under Sharia may enjoy our standard of living a bit more because we are more conducive to continuously trying to support diversity. The diversity of cultures and opinions go hand in hand here, though generally it is the case provided that there are interest groups to help us find the way. However that promise is always there that you can make it academic first, then political, and finally it will part of the fabric of this country as the people themselves self-correct. It’s remarkable actually!

    What I don’t agree with is the quality of the prescriptions for a remedy for people suffering unjustly under Sharia. Logically we would never have more control than if we simply took power. But since we live in a post-colonial era we try to give power to the internal groups that we like.

    We can only do as well to change a country, as there are internal political-sized groups in that country interested in that change. That’s it. That’s the bottom line.

  60. The problem with Dogma is that it’s culturally dependant. It wasn’t too long ago that women were treated as property here in the west. These cultural backwaters are like species that are going extinct. Are you sure we shouldn’t work to preserve some of these cultural traditions? Just because we’ve so PC that Everyone and Everything now has value? Pushing your cultural values on others is one of our cultural values? And who do we save next? I vote for China.

  61. So is Christianity. Peace and forgiveness and charity and compassion…All good things. Obviously there is a big difference between theory and practice.

  62. The argument does go around and around doesn’t it?

    You are callous if you let it happen. You are a meddler if you don’t.

    Just remember,that in the end of the day you and I didn’t cause the Sharia court to kill this young man.

  63. This is one real reason why not a whole heck of a lot of Science Nobel Prizes go to Muslims. Uh, they KILL their smart kids, and refuse even literacy to women under Sharia law.

    From my random notes: Between 20 to 50% of marriages in the Middle East are between cousins, whereas fewer than 1% of the marriages of members of the European genetic clustering are between cousins. Studies show that cousin marriages cost IQ points. The Pakistani community accounted for 30 per cent of all births with recessive disorders, despite representing 3.4 per cent of the birth rate nationwide…. “They must look outside the family for husbands and wives for their young people.” It is estimated that more than 55 per cent of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins, resulting in an increasing rate of genetic defects and high rates of infant mortality.”

    In-breeding is politically correct to label Southern Republican “white trash” as practicing, but where are the FEMINISTS or Amnesty International or the UN etc. when you need them? I’ll tell you where: appointing exactly these same countries to lead Human Rights commissions.

    What if Christianity was running rampant in the Middle East, with a wave of witch burning (or stoning women for teaching their daughters to read, or sentencing the same daughter to death for having been gang raped).

  64. From Takuan’s link…

    …Ibrahimi describes the “dancing boys,” teenage boys who dress up as girls and dance for male patrons at parties thrown by some commanders in northern Afghanistan…

    It is said that an Afghani tribal leader, possessed of Soviet era armament, had a beautiful boy as his lover. Another such leader, also blessed with the fruits of the Soviet occupation, saw the boy, and the sun grew dark in his eyes because he could not possess him. So the two leaders went head to head in a remote Afghan village to determine which one of them might possess the gazelle-eyed youth. One of them won the day, their soldiery and armament were combined under one leader and the militia that would become the Taliban was born.

    This seminal tale was reported in the international media about fifteen years ago.

  65. Apostasy or a falling away from Islam is punishable by death. The evidence for apostasy need only be circumstantial. Impious behavior, such as failing to pray or offending Islamic morals, can be taken as evidence of apostasy. In the Hanafi school, the male apostate is given three days to recant before being executed. The female apostate is imprisoned and beaten until she recants… from here

    Now it sounds less like medieval Europe and more like 17th century New England. So, did he get an opportunity to recant?

  66. re- “Afghanistan: Death sentence for downloading, distributing report on oppression of women” (posted by Xeni Jardin)

    This stuff makes me nuts. I’m religious, but I don’t believe that we have, at the moment, a religious organization on earth that Jehovah God approves of. And that includes the organization that embraces God’s self-given name, which I once associated with.

    Nor am I a fan of Christopher Hitchens, who I agree with on the subject of free speech.

    I’m not of the view that all cultures contribute something to my community (which isn’t to say that all those who embrace those problematic cultures should be persecuted). I’m Canadian, where, they say, racism is not overt but simmers below the surface. These days, here in Toronto, racism has been in the news due to the efforts of some to deal with statsitics that show that black students are dropping out of school at a higher rate than kids from other backgrounds. Those efforts include (efforts at) segregating black students into black focussed schools.

    That’s race. But is it also culture? If it is, then the focus on race here is a mistake, since gangsta culture has already migrated to the wider society and gangsta culture isn’t any different, in essence, than a (fascistic) culture that produces citizens who think it’s okay for it’s country to quit using it’s military to do genuine humanitarian intervention and start doing imperialism, which means military adventurism for economic gain (hence fascistic, since fascism means rule by the political and business class at the expense of the wider – civil – society). Canada, especially with Haiti under it’s belt, is there. We now follow imperial America, doing our own imperialism on the side, careful to never cross the boss.

    I don’t think we Canadians benefit from the war mongering culture south of us. And I don’t think we benefit from manmade religions and the presence of their fanatical adherents who regard women, not as subordinate to men, but as inferior (Islam), a different thing with seriously different ramifications, just as I also don’t think we benefit from the presence in my country of Hell’s Angels, mafia and triads.

    Which isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate the rule of law that we have here (as poorly set out and regarded as it is), which may sometimes, due to imperfections in it, allow or seem to allow situations that normal people would consider unjust. At least we have enough freedom here that we can put up a fight to make an unjust situation, or law, just. That happens in proportion as there are godly people around inclined to fight for social justice and possessing the wherewithal, whether or not they are religious.

  67. This is terrible. I hope something can be done for this man. Maybe put pressure on Saudi Arabia etc to put pressure on Afghanistan to stop this.

    Another commment.. everyone is saying the problem is religion. NO IT’S NOT. I used to think this, that humankind’s problems are because of religion. No, humankind’s problemas are due to humankind. It doesn’t matter whether you ban religion, humankind will still be evil. I feel religion is a tool, which can be used for good but like always happens is mostly used for bad. The Soviet Union was officially atheist and thought of new and exciting ways to get rid of people. The problem is dogmatic thinking whether it be religious or not (even scientific fundamentalists but they haven’t started burning or stoning people yet thankfully)
    There needs to be public pressure on this case.

  68. I hope I’m smart enough not to judge an entire religion, followed by one-sixth of the planet’s humans, by something like this, just as I understand that not all Baptists are like Fred Phelps and his execrable followers.

    I think what worries me is the idea of Muslims expecting sharia law to be imposed in Western countries. I’ve already heard tales of non-Muslim women being raped and attacked in non-Muslim European countries for not wearing veils. And in the Dallas area, we just had our own “honor killing” of two teenaged Egyptian girls by their own father, because he didn’t like their Westernized ways.

    What Catnip said above about people having had a positive outcome from becoming Muslim (I’m paraphrasing) struck home with me. My middle stepson is currently serving a prison sentence for second-degree sexual assault (he claimed an encounter was consensual, she said it wasn’t). He has had a number of problems in his short life (he’s 18), including drug abuse, mental health issues, and emotional abuse by his mother. He recently wrote to us to say he’d converted to Islam. I couldn’t help my initial “why?” reaction, but the conclusion I’ve come to is that maybe he can make himself a tool of understanding, to help non-Muslims who meet him overcome their own prejudices about what “all Muslims” are like.

  69. I think what worries me is the idea of Muslims expecting sharia law to be imposed in Western countries.

    There’s been an ongoing kerfuffle about introducing Shari’a in Canada. A bigwig Canadian lawyer has been trying to get Canada to allow Muslims to be tried in Shari’a courts instead of Canadian law courts. It was taken quite seriously by some people, enough to spark protests. It’s been shut down so far. Stoning people to death in downtown Toronto would probably be bad for tourism. Well, I hope that it would be bad for tourism. I guess that there’s a niche market for everything.

  70. A fundamental principal of democratic society is Freedom From Religion. Not “freedom of religion”; Freedom From Religion.

    People can believe what they wish, so long as they do no harm to others with it. Sharia, or any other kind of special privilege, is fine between consenting adults so long as it does not intrude on larger society.

    If Islam cannot accept the same status as Christianity and Judaism in free society, then it cannot not be accepted in turn.

    I only fight in self-defense.I would never kill a Muslim, Christian, Jew etc. only because I disagree with what they want to believe in. I would, however, kill any one or all of them that attempts to force me into their reality.

    If this is not understood, there will be war.

  71. yep, a free society that respects human rights has a duty to protect those who cannot defend themselves.

    If this means using whatever force is required to keep priests from hurting children, so be it. The post above mentioning Canada for instance; whether it is 12 year girls forced into polygamous marriage (Mormons), medical murder of infants (Jehovahs Witnesses)Roman Catholic priests and nuns preying on Aboriginal children in residential schools, “honour” murders of teenage girls (Sikhs, Muslims) or Orthodox Judaic oppression of girls, if Canada wishes to be considered a free society, each and every one of these instances must be met with the full force of the law.

  72. I was surprised by how many honor killings I came across in the US and Canada when I was googling this. I wouldn’t be surprised if fundamentalist christians decide to adopt that one. I mean officially. I’m sure that it’s already happening on an individual basis. Of course, if the girl is pregnant, her father and brothers will have to wait for her to deliver before killing her. Killing the fetus would be murder. That would be unchristian.

  73. To the folk here who detest religion as a practice, understand that religion creates and supports culture and civilizations. Without it, we’d have no reason to do anything to further our civilizations. Acts of honesty and good samaritans, charity, and so forth are acts of faith. Whether that faith is a formal organized religion or self directed secular humanism, it is still a faith in one’s fellow humans. It is a religion of sorts.

    However, religion should not dominate everything. This is where the West has actually gotten things right. Unfortunately, Fundamentalist Islam does not recognize a separation of Mosque and State. This is what is causing scary things like this blasphemy conviction to happen.

    When any religion crosses that line, it becomes toxic to Western Philosophy. Whether you’re a liberal, conservative, libertarian, left, or right, these acts are not helpful for anyone.

    The only question we should be discussing is what to do about it. Those who do nothing are allowing evil to go forward. This is how Rwanda happened. This is how Bosnia happened. This is how Holocausts get started.

    What ever happened to “Never Again!”?

  74. Humans create culture and civilization. A parasitic meme called organized religion comes along for the ride. It sickens me to think of how many times great talents like Michelangelo etc. were forced into a patronage relationship and had their free expression perverted into church propaganda.

    This statement is nonsense: “Whether that faith is a formal organized religion or self directed secular humanism, it is still a faith in one’s fellow humans. It is a religion of sorts.” Organized,”god” worshipping religion is all about NOT having faith in humanity. That is their whole protection-racket point.

    Further, the West has NOT got it right. The USA, for example, operates with a de-facto state religion. The ruler openly espouses a particular faith and clearly states his policy is dictated by it. He even makes reference to divine mission.
    Americans dislike admitting they live under a theocracy`- but they do.

    Rwanda happened for a variety or reasons, the logical conclusion of European, “Christian” colonialism foremost. I also invite you to consider the fiasco in Somalia; something which so embarrassed The American government at the time that not only was Rwanda ignored, but attempts by the international community to mitigate it were actively sabotaged at the time by the likes of Madeline Albright.

    Never again? Not while organizd religion exists.

  75. Humans create culture and civilization. A parasitic meme called organized religion comes along for the ride. It sickens me to think of how many times great talents like Michelangelo etc. were forced into a patronage relationship and had their free expression perverted into church propaganda.

    Not just art but what about Science? It’s been estimated that if the major world religions, particularly Chritianity, had stuck to it’s own affairs rather than becoming a government unto itself that we would be anywhere from 300-500 years more advanced than we are now.

    Religion. Poisons. Everything.

  76. I wish it were as simple as “Be Good”.

    If what you do hurts others, it is not good.

    If what you do helps others, then it is good.

    If there is a conflict – what you do helps some, but hurts some, too…

    there, I am stuck. I just wish it were simple. Though I imagine that if everyone tried to adhere to not hurting others, it would make a big difference.

    Thats my religion – be nice, try not to hurt people.

    And a comment on the main story – someone said that the kid was also under investigation for many other blasphemous things, this being only a part of those, not the whole, or even the biggest part. That sounds more correct – it seems the news media usually distorts things like this, in this way, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find this is yet another incidence of little-white-lies by omission.

  77. Oh boy, nothing like religion and politics to ruffle feathers. There is such a thing as right and wrong. Killing the dude just because he downloaded some reading material speaks to the mindset of the wackos in charge. Boy, there would be dead bodies everywhere if they executed all the pervs that downloaded porn here in the states. See more on my thoughts on this and who should run Afghanistan.

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