WASHINGTON - Urge the U.S. State Department to Take Immediate Action to End this Attack on Freedom of Speech, Women's Rights and Democracy in Afghanistan.
Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, the male editor of Haqooq-i-zan, which means Women's Rights, has been convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to two years in prison for publishing articles critical of punishments doled out because of interpretations of Sharia (Islamic) law. Nasab is the first journalist to be convicted for blasphemy since the fall of the Taliban regime four years ago. The case will automatically be appealed.
Nasab was convicted by the Primary Court in Kabul for blasphemy resulting from two articles published in the magazine critical of these severe punishments, including 100 lashes for adultery and death by stoning for conversion to another religion.
According to reports from Kabul, Nasab was arrested at the urging of Mohaiuddin Baluch, who serves as a religious advisor to President Hamid Karzai. Sayed Makhdum Raheen, Afghanistan's Minister of Information and Culture, reportedly intervened in the case, arguing that the Media Commission for Investigating Media-Related Offense had found no blasphemy in Nasab's articles and calling for a lenient sentence.
The United States is telling the world that the US is supporting women's rights and democracy in Afghanistan. The United States and the international community must take a stand against this attack on freedom of speech which is fundamental to women's rights and democracy.
Urge Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Under Secretary for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky to seek the immediate release of Ali Mohaqiq Nasab and to urge the global community to join them in their efforts. This prison sentence is damaging to the development of democracy and women's rights in Afghanistan. The success of Nasab's appeal is of paramount importance.