Friday, January 25, 2008

Afghanistan: 'Godless'

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has an interesting article written by Golnaz Esfandiari, claiming that an Iranian journalist called Arash Bikhoda, is the real author behind the poem that led to another journalist in Afghanistan, being given the death penalty by a three-judge panel in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif.

QUOTE: His pen name says it all: Arash Bikhoda -- or “Godless,” in Persian.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, that’s a dangerous name. But Bikhoda is an Iranian-born student and Internet journalist who lives in Europe. He’s also the author of "The Koranic Verses That Discriminate Against Women," a controversial article that, a world away in Afghanistan, has landed journalist Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh on death row.

In what media reports called a secret trial, a three-judge panel in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif on January 22 sentenced Kambakhsh to death for “blasphemy.” The ruling, which highlights the tension between international human-rights law and some conservative interpretations of Islam, has been widely condemned by human-rights organizations in both Afghanistan and around the world.

Kambakhsh was arrested in October after reportedly distributing the article among students. Authorities apparently believed he was its author, but his brother told RFE/RL this week that Kambakhsh had copied the article off a website.

Bikhoda, speaking to RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, confirmed that it was his website -- and his article. He also expressed sadness over what has happened and appealed to the Afghan government to ensure the death penalty is not carried out.

Full article: Afghanistan: Journalist Claims Article That Led To Death Sentence