Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, the male editor of a women’s rights magazine in Afghanistan, has been sentenced to two years in jail by for criticizing punishments doled out because of interpretations of Sharia (Islamic) law. 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, reported the Associated Press. The case will automatically be appealed.
According to the New York Times, before the sentencing was agreed to, there was a “strenuous battle” between conservative judges on the Supreme Court and the more liberal Minister of Information and Culture, Sayed Makhdum Raheen. The prosecutor had initially called for the death penalty. Nasab, who was reportedly arrested at the urging of Mohaiuddin Baluch, a religious advisor to President Hamid Karzai, is the first journalist convicted for blasphemy by a Kabul court since the fall of the Taliban regime.
“This is damaging to the development of democracy and women’s rights in Afghanistan,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “Success of the impending appeal is of paramount importance.”
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 aid the appeal seeking reversal of the decision imprisoning Ali Mohaqiq Nasab and to urge the global community to join them in their efforts.