Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, the male editor of a women’s rights magazine in Afghanistan who was arrested and jailed on October 1, is now on trial on charges of blasphemy. Nasab was arrested for publishing articles criticizing execution and other severe punishments for adultery, thievery, and murder under Sharia (Islamic) law. Nasab was reportedly arrested at the urging of Mohaiuddin Baluch, who serves as a religious advisor to President Hamid Karzai. Religious fundamentalists are calling for Nasab to serve 10 to 15 years in jail.
“This is of grave concern,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “The United States is telling the world that the US is supporting women’s rights and democracy in Afghanistan. Freedom of speech is fundamental to women’s rights and democracy.”
“The arrest and trial of Ali Mohaqiq Nasab on blasphemy charges is a giant step backward for press freedom in Afghanistan,” said Ann Cooper, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which has been following Nasab’s case very closely. “Nasab should be released immediately and without condition.”
The Feminist Majority is calling on women’s rights supporters in the United States to email 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.