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Published:February 6th, 2008 03:21 EST
Afghan Journalist facing Death for blasphemy

Afghan Journalist facing Death for blasphemy

By SOP newswire

President Hamid Karzai's office has expressed concern about a death sentence given to an Afghan journalist for allegedly insulting Islam (see "RFE/RL Newsline," January 31, 2008), RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reported on February 5.

Karzai spokesman Homayun Hamidzada said the same day that Karzai will not intervene in the blasphemy case against journalist Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh until an appeals court makes a ruling.

"Of course the president is concerned," Hamidzada said. "And we are watching the situation very closely. We will follow the judicial process in consultation with the Ulema Shura [local clerical council] as well. And then, in light of those decisions and the Afghan Constitution -- as well as our international obligations and respect for human rights -- the Afghan government will make a decision."

Kambakhsh was charged with blasphemy after he took an opinion piece from the Internet written by another man, an Iranian exile living in Western Europe, and distributed it to students. The author of the article had questioned interpretations of the Koran dealing with the treatment of women.

The death sentence, which was issued by a lower court in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif, must be approved by the Afghan presidency before it can be legally carried out.