Thursday, October 23, 2008

Back to Afghanistan... say a plague on both their houses.

The government - Parwez Kambakhsh, a journalism student charged with the crime of blasphemy for asking questions in class about the rights of women under Islam, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

And that's the good news: This was a reduction in sentence from being executed.
Kambakhsh was studying journalism at Balkh University in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and writing for local newspapers when he was arrested in October 2007.

Besides the accusation that Kambakhsh disrupted class with his questions, prosecutors also said he illegally distributed an article he printed off the Internet that asks why Islam does not modernize to give women equal rights. He also allegedly wrote his own comments on the paper.
He had thus, the accusation said, violated the tents of Islam. Under Afghan law, it appears that was enough to have him sentenced to death at his original trial last January.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the sentence, as did other human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders.
[Kambakhsh's] brother, Yaqub Ibrahimi, had written about human rights violations and local politics.

Ibrahimi told the AP on Tuesday that his brother was sentenced because of the pressure from warlords and other strongmen in northern Afghanistan, whom he has criticized in his writings.
When Afghanistan produced a new constitution in January 2004, I expressed some quiet hope that it would lead to a better future for the nation. But I also noted that the document said no civil law could be "contrary" to the "beliefs and provisions" of Islam and worried that might "set off land mines sometime in the future."
Few nations (actually, none spring to mind right now) have successfully combined a national religion with true political freedom[, I said at the time]. I can but wonder if Afghanistan will be the first. If it does pull it off, it will be a remarkable achievement.
The evidence to date does not support that hope.

The Taliban - Gayle Williams, 34, a worker with an inter-denominational Christian charity named SERVE Afghanistan (Serving Emergency Relief and Vocational Enterprise), was murdered Monday by two men who had been lying in wait for her as she walked to work. According to shopkeeper Mohammed Gul, an eyewitness,
"They knew what they were doing, they knew she would be there. She was hit many times on the chest and the body, no one could have lived after such an attack."
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the murder of the "foreign woman."
A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, declared that she had been executed "because she was working for an organisation which was preaching Christianity in Afghanistan".
Which in their view makes blowing her head off not merely justifiable, but, it would appear, an honorable thing to do. The fact that there is no evidence that Williams as an individual or SERVE as an organization "preaches" Christianity or attempts to convert Muslims was, of course, irrelevant. Such nuances always are to fanatics.

Fuck 'em all. And if it wasn't for the suffering of innocents, innocents who have nothing to do with either the government or the Taliban, I'd say all the aid agencies, every one of them, should just pack up and say "sit in your own shit, assholes."

Footnote: Interpress Service reminds us that
[t]he present U.S. policy in Afghanistan of using airstrikes to target local Taliban leaders was rejected by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan in early 2004 as certain to turn the broader population against the U.S. presence
because of the inevitable civilian casualties they cause.
U.S. planes flew just 86 bombing missions in Afghanistan in all of 2004, but in 2007, the number of such airstrikes had risen to nearly 3,000, according to U.S. Air Forces Central Command figures.

The exponential rise in bombing continued in 2008. In the two months of June and July 2008 alone, the United States dropped nearly 600,000 pounds of bombs in Afghanistan - roughly equivalent to the total tonnage dropped in all of 2006 - according to statistics collected by Marc Gerlasco of Human Rights Watch.

U.S. airstrikes have generated a rapidly rising rate of civilian casualties, creating a political climate marked by increased anger toward the U.S. and NATO military presence, according to many Afghan and foreign observers.
They just don't listen, they just don't learn. Or they just don't care. Fuck them, too.

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