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Afghan 'Blasphemy' Death Sentence

An Afghan journalist has been sentenced to death by a provincial court for distributing "blasphemous" material.

Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, was arrested in 2007 after downloading material from the internet relating to the role of women in Islamic societies.

A primary court in Balkh province said that Kambakhsh had confessed to blasphemy and had to be punished.

The court also threatened to arrest any reporters who protested against Kambakhsh's sentence.

Kambakhsh, a student at Balkh University and a journalist for Jahan-e Naw (New World), was arrested in October 2007 after material he downloaded was deemed to be offensive to Islam.

Shamsur Rahman, the head of the court, told Reuters news agency: "According to... the Islamic law, Sayed Perwiz is sentenced to death at the first court.

"However, he will go through three more courts to declare his last punishment," he said.

'Deeply shocked'

Balkh province's deputy attorney general, Hafizullah Khaliqyar, warned other journalists that they would be arrested if they attempted to support Kambakhsh.

But Agence France-Presse reported that journalists were gathering outside the home of the condemned reporter.

The sentence has been welcomed by conservative Islamic clerics in Afghanistan but criticised by international human rights groups.

Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said it was "deeply shocked" by the trial and appealed to President Hamid Karzai to intervene "before it is too late".

In a statement, the group said the trial was "carried out in haste and without any concern for the law or for free expression, which is protected by the constitution".

"Kambakhsh did not do anything to justify his being detained or being given this sentence."

Kambakhsh's brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, said the verdict was "very unfair" and appealed for help from the international community, reported Reuters.

Story from BBC NEWS:

BBC news report:

I logged a request for his release with the afghani ambassy.

Baal wrote:
I logged a request for his release with the afghani ambassy.


There will also be a Demo:

Demonstration to demand Kambakhsh’s Freedom
On Friday, February 8, 2008, 12.00 to 2.00 pm
Afghanistan Embassy, 31 Princes Gate, London, SW7

I'm quite active on an afghan forum, for the last 6 years now...
and it is not just any-other afghan forum, many people of the gov read it, and some also take part, and I also have direct contacts there in the country and in the gov...

Since I'm, so to speak, "in love" with afghanistan somehow !

I travelled the country first in 1972, when king zaher was still in charge, came back when his uncle daud khan had snatched power from him, and again when the first commie-group took over...

I travelled afghanistan again in 2002, alone, only me and my cameras, and it was like "coming home", despite the fact that it was all ruins and destruction, pain and endless sorrow !

here's what I wrote on this afghan forum, we have many threads about kambakhsh and the follow up discussion...

and I've opened another thread about this case today...

"the kambakhsh case" - http://www.afghanistanonlineforum...-bin/yabb2/

oh yeah, I am "estragon" there !


and its not even really about HIM, but about his brother...

this fact is the most revealing point in this pseudo-case !
[fugg all this warlordism, tribalism, and all islamic "laws" - disgusting !]

here's a link to an onlyine petition everybody ought to sign !

but its even better if one copies the text, and sends it to the by now many times postet mail-addies, which I will repost one more time here...

below the text of this online petition, maybe alter it at your will, or just copy it, and send it out !


To:  The Government of Afghanistan

Perwez Kambakhsh, a 23 year old student of Balkh University’s journalism faculty was sentenced to death by a court because ‘he had copied an article from a website containing un-Islamic material’.

It is clearly inhumane and unjust to kill someone for copying an article, read and distribute it because the constitution of Afghanistan has given the right of freedom of expression to every one.

This Taliban-style sentence is not acceptable to anyone and this decision is condemned by all human rights organizations, civil societies, journalists’ unions and individuals in Afghanistan and the entire world.

This sentence will only strengthen the war-lords, the terrorists and the narrow-minded mullahs who want their own dominance by imposing their self-made brutal laws and by keeping the society in ignorance.

We demand the government of Afghanistan to release Syed Perwez Kambakhsh and prove that the government respects human rights and freedom of expression.


The Undersigned

please email your protest letters to:

Presidential Office:

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)

The Supreme Court of Afghanistan

you may also send protest letters to the afghan embassy in your country !


maybe have a look at my pic-homepage, with lotsa pics from afghanistan... from 72 to 2002 !

Excellent pictures HE, I would love to visit Afghanistan one day - hopefully when there is peace. I just finished Kite Runner and found it an absorbing read.


cosmicdancer wrote:
Excellent pictures HE, I would love to visit Afghanistan one day - hopefully when there is peace. I just finished Kite Runner and found it an absorbing read.


Yes, good book, and very true...
Maybe, if you have the chance, get "the sowing circles of herat" !

Afghanistan has a very RAW charme, country-wise, a rough beauty, unaltered, unshaven, barren, and wild...

And the people, despite their ability to commit the most horrendous crimes, are always happy, laughing, joking, open like children, and the most inviting you ever met !

All in all, its like visiting a place in another time !
Wanna see life on a biblical level, also with all details, go to afghanistan !

It's a sad state where you get get sentenced to death for something like that. It reminds me about a case where two journalist in Azerbaijan got jailed because of a critical article about economics and islam. You can read it here. Hopefully cases like this might make an example for the future, if it succeds to free the person. Hopefully freedom of speech might be tolerated more and be further implemented in the judicial conscruct of the country.

Video from the Demo:


Source: The Independent

How he was sentenced to die

'What they call my trial lasted just four minutes in a closed court. I was told that I was guilty and the decision was that I was going to die'

By Kim Sengupta in Mazar-I-Sharif, Afghanistan
Monday, 25 February 2008

Clutching the bars at his prison, Sayed Pervez Kambaksh recalls how his life unravelled. "There was no question of me getting a lawyer to represent me in the case; in fact I was not even able to speak on my own defence."

The 23-year-old student, whose death sentence for downloading a report on women's rights from the internet has become an international cause célèbre, was speaking to The Independent at his jail in Mazar-i-Sharif – the first time the outside world has heard his own account of his shattering experience. In a voice soft, somewhat hesitant, he said: "The judges had made up their mind about the case without me. The way they talked to me, looked at me, was the way they look at a condemned man. I wanted to say 'this is wrong, please listen to me', but I was given no chance to explain."

For Mr Kambaksh the four-minute hearing has led to four months of incarceration, sharing a 10 by 12 metre cell with 34 others -- murderers, robbers and terrorists – and having the threat of execution constantly hanging over him. His fate appeared sealed when the Afghan senate passed a motion, proposed by Sibghatullkah Mojeddeid, a key ally of the President Hamid Karzai, confirming the death sentence, although this was later withdrawn after domestic and international protests.

I spoke to Mr Kambaksh at Balkh prison, under the watchful eyes of the warders in their olive green Russian-era uniforms. Here 360 prisoners are packed into a facility for 200, in conditions even the Afghan prison authorities acknowledge are "unacceptable". The inmates, who include 22 women, many convicted of deserting their husbands and adultery, sit around with the forlorn demeanour of those caught up in a vast bureaucratic system with little chance of an early exit.

Since The Independent exposed the case of Mr Kambaksh, eminent public figures such as the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. and Britain's Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, have lobbied Mr Karzai to reprieve him. A petition launched by this newspaper calling for justice for Mr Kambaksh has gathered nearly 90,000 signatures.

Standing outside his cell, Mr Kambaksh looked pale and tired, hunched into his brown leather jacket over a dusty white shalwar kameez against the cold, cutting wind of the northern mountains. He had, in the past, been attacked by fundamentalist prisoners at the instigation of a guard who had said he was a heretic, but the intimidation has tailed off in recent weeks. "I am very thankful for what The Independent has done and the publicity in this case. Most of my fellow prisoners know now that I had not done anything so terrible to deserve this, and they have supported me. Some of the guards have also been kind.

"There are still some extremists who insult me, but I am afraid they are the kind who will not change their minds."

Mr Kambaksh's ordeal began in mid- October after the downloading of the document about Islam and women's rights from an Iranian website. He was questioned first by some teachers of religion from the university where he is a student of journalism.

"They said that some other students had said that I had written the article myself. Of course I denied this, I also asked them who these other students were, but they would not give me the names. They have since repeated these accusations, but they have never told me who these students are. I do not know if they exist ..." His voice trailed off as a guard came and stood listening to him. Not all believe in Mr Kambaksh's innocence.

On 27 October he was arrested at the offices of Jahan-e-Naw, a newspaper for which he had carried out reporting assignments. "It was about 10 in the morning. They told me that one of the directors of the NDS [the Afghan national intelligence service] wanted to see me. I was taken to a police station and sat around until 3 o'clock when they said they were arresting me over the website entry. When I protested they said they were doing this for my own safety, otherwise I may be killed."

Mr Kambaksh received visits from his family in the weeks which followed but says that he was not allowed any access to a lawyer. "My family were upset, my father is so worried, I have seen him age in the last few months. I keep telling them to be strong."

On 6 December he was brought before a court in Mazar where the charges against him, accusing him of blasphemy and breaching other tenets of Islamic law, were read out. But then the proceedings concluded without any evidence being presented before the court.

The next hearing, on 12 January, was cancelled after Mr Kambaksh became ill. He arrived at the court at the next session, on 22 January expecting a date to be set for the trial, only to hear numbing news. "They normally sit for just a few hours in the afternoon. I was taken into the court just before it shut at 4 o'clock. There were three judges and a prosecutor and some details of the case were repeated. One of the judges then said to me that I have been found guilty and the sentence was death. I tried to argue, but, as I said, they talked to me like a criminal, they just said I would be taken back to the prison.

"I was totally shocked. Afterwards I sat and tried to calculate just how long they had taken to judge my case. I thought at first it was three minutes, but then I worked out it was four. That was it, I have been in prison ever since. All I can hope now is that something can be done at the appeal. I would really like the appeal to be heard in Kabul, I think I will get a better hearing there."

Following the international outcry over the case, and the campaign by Mr Kambaksh's supporters, Afghanistan's Supreme Court has said that the appeal may take place at Kabul, away from local justice in Mazar, and that the hearing this time would be in the open. Justice Bahahuddin Baha also stated that the student would have the right to legal representation.

"I think if I get to put over my point of view then the judges will see I have done nothing wrong. But then I was entitled under the constitution to have a lawyer and put my defence the last time and that did not happen. I have heard that President Karzai has taken an interest in my case. He can reprieve me, but I do not know what kind of pressure he is under."

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