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U.S. Commission protests arrest of Afghan editor for ‘insulting Islam’

 

WASHINGTON (RNS) — The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is protesting the Oct. 1 arrest of a journalist in Afghanistan on charges of blasphemy and “insulting Islam.”

Afghanistan’s attorney general ordered the arrest of Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, editor of the women’s rights magazine Haqooq-i-Zan, after the journalist questioned the use of traditional Islamic punishments such as amputation and public stoning.

Officials detained Nasab, 50, after the religious advisor to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai filed a complaint against him. The editor faces a 15-year jail sentence for speaking out against Islamic, or Sharia, law, and allegedly stands in violation of a 2004 press law banning publication of “matters contrary to the principles of Islam or offensive to other religions and sects.”

The U.S. commission monitors the status of religious freedom abroad and offers policy recommendations to the U.S. government. It has criticized Afghanistan’s 2004 constitution for not providing ample protection against “unjust accusations of religious crimes.”