An Afghan student journalist named Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh has been sentenced to death for insulting Islam. Reports conflict about exactly what he did that was deemed insulting by the court that convicted him in Mazar-e-Sharif, but most agree that it had something to do with his possession of articles about roles of women in Muslim societies. However, that’s not the point. Insulting or questioning religion –any religion, anywhere, by anyone– shouldn’t be a crime.* 

Kambakhsh has been waiting on death row for three months when he shouldn’t have been punished at all. Below is a photo, from, of Kambakhsh in jail.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai told worried Afghan journalists that he believes Kambakhsh won’t be harmed, but that’s hardly reassuring, given Karazi’s limited power and the general lawlessness of Afghanistan beyond Kabul.

On February 4th, Afghans marched in the streets of Kabul to condemn Kambakhsh’s sentence and call for his release, according to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. One female demonstrator told IWPR, "The international community spends so much money on Afghanistan, they
should guarantee freedom of expression. They cannot let an innocent
person be put to death."

Agreed, completely.

I’ll be posting updates on this story as it develops.

* Actively calling  for or condoning violence against followers
of a particular religion, something different altogether from "insulting" religion, certainly should be a crime, and is in many countries with broad press freedom.