Sentenced to Die Over a Download
Posted on Feb 18, 2008
Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh, a 23-year-old Afghan student, has been sentenced to death for blasphemy because of an article he downloaded from the Internet. The verdict has aroused outrage around the world and top U.S. and European officials have spoken with the Afghan government. However, some worry that international pressure could back Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the nation’s religious fundamentalists into a corner and therefore ensure that the execution is carried out.
Los Angeles Times:
But many Afghans also say the mounting international pressure against the death sentence is creating a populist backlash against foreign meddling in the country’s justice system. That hostility complicates matters for Karzai, whose room to maneuver is already limited by his deepening unpopularity and the perception that he is a U.S. puppet.
“These are the worst kinds of cases for Karzai,” said Sherin Aqa Manawi, deputy head of the Ulema Council, Afghanistan’s central body of religious scholars. “It was a normal case before the courts until the West made it into a big deal. But when the West interfered, they cornered Karzai.
“He is caught between showing the West that he’s bringing democracy and human rights to Afghanistan,” said Manawi, “and on the other hand showing Afghans that he supports their religious leaders.”