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Women's Rights Editor Jailed in Afghanistan Faces Increasing Threats

Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, the editor of an Afghan women's rights magazine who was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to two years in prison, is facing increasing calls for harsher punishments, including a recent fatwa demanding that Nasab repent or be executed. Nasab was arrested and jailed after publishing articles questioning harsh punishments doled out under some interpretations of sharia (Islamic) law, including 100 lashes for adultery and death by stoning for conversion to another religion, as well as articles arguing for womens equality. Muhammed Aref Rahmani, a member of the national Shiite Council of Ulema (Islamic scholars), explaining his concern over the articles published in Nasabs womens rights magazine, told the Washington Post, Sometimes the whole religion and the rules of the religion were attacked For instance, he says one woman should be equal to one man, as a witness in a case, which is completely against our religion.

In addition to the fatwa calling for Nasabs execution, the Supreme Court in Afghanistan issued a fatwa saying Nasab should be given the harshest punishment, so he will be a lesson to others, according to the Post.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, which has been working for Nasabs release since he was arrested in October, sent a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai on December 9 calling for him to intervene in the case. According to the US-based organization, the state prosecutor said that arrest warrants have been issued for individuals in Afghanistan who have defended Nasab. The Chicago Tribune reports that between Nasabs arrest and his sentencing three weeks later, local media outspokenly supported Nasab, including running an open letter signed by Afghan intellectuals, but since then there has not been much public support.

Nasabs case is currently being appealed. The Feminist Majority is calling on womens rights supporters in the United States to email Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Under Secretary for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky to actively support the appeal seeking reversal of the decision imprisoning Ali Mohaqiq Nasab and to urge the global community to join them in their efforts.

TAKE ACTION Send an email urging Rice and Dobriansky to aid Ali Mohaqiq Nasabs appeal

DONATE to the Feminist Majority Foundations Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls

Media Resources: Washington Post 12/11/05; Chicago Tribune 11/26/05; Committee to Protect Journalists 12/9/05; Feminist Majority Foundation