Afghan Journalists Protest Young Writer's Death Sentence
Afghan student-writer Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh was sentenced to death for insulting Islam.
The 23 year-old student and writer downloaded an anti-Islamic report from the internet.
Yesterday he was sentenced to death for the crime— in Afghanistan!!!
Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh was sentenced to death for for downloading material relating to the role of women in Islamic societies. (Courtesy Photo- RFE-RL)
Today, Afghan journalists protested the death sentence of 23 year-old writer Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh. The Committee to Protect Journalists also condemned the young writer’s death sentence.
The association of Afghan journalists has protested against a decision by a provincial court to sentence reporter Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh to death for distributing “blasphemous” material.
“It’s a hasty sentence that does not taken into account the facts,” said Rahimollah Samandar, the Afghan Independent Journalists Association in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).
Twenty-three year-old Kambakhsh is a student at Balkh University and a journalist for Jahan-e Naw (New World). He was arrested in October 2007 after downloading material from the internet relating to the role of women in Islamic societies.
The material was deemed offensive to Islam and a court sentenced him to death after he had allegedly confessed to blasphemy.
“According to Islamic law, to read and learn about a sin, is not the same as committing the sin,” Sanmandar told AKI.
“Kambakhsh did not commit any sin by reading an article that is offensive to Islam,” he said. “In the same way, by giving this information to some colleagues, this cannot be defined as distributing offensive texts.”
“I am convinced that the religious leaders, who have judged and condemned our young colleague, were not well-informed about the facts and they passed the sentence influenced by their emotions,” Sanmadar told AKI.
The Afghan Information Ministry says the death sentence is not final.
The court sentenced Kambakhsh for distributing a copy of an article on the treatment of women in Islam that he downloaded from the internet by Arash Bikhoda.
RFE-RL found the author of the internet article:
His pen name says it all: Arash Bikhoda — or “Godless,” in Persian.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, that’s a dangerous name. But Bikhoda is an Iranian-born student and Internet journalist who lives in Europe. He’s also the author of “The Koranic Verses That Discriminate Against Women,” a controversial article that, a world away in Afghanistan, has landed journalist Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh on death row.
In what media reports called a secret trial, a three-judge panel in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif on January 22 sentenced Kambakhsh to death for “blasphemy.” The ruling, which highlights the tension between international human-rights law and some conservative interpretations of Islam, has been widely condemned by human-rights organizations in both Afghanistan and around the world.
Kambakhsh was arrested in October after reportedly distributing the article among students. Authorities apparently believed he was its author, but his brother told RFE/RL this week that Kambakhsh had copied the article off a website.
Bikhoda, speaking to RFE/RL’s Radio Farda today, confirmed that it was his website — and his article. He also expressed sadness over what has happened and appealed to the Afghan government to ensure the death penalty is not carried out.
The AP is reporting that it was his brother’s crime that landed him in jail.
UPDATE: (Saturday 1-26-2008) The UN is reviewing the case of the death sentence of student-writer Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh.