March 13, 2009

US-liberated Afhanistan: Blasphemy and Women's Rights are Punishable by Death!

What do You Mean Religion Can Breed Violence? You Deserve to Die for Saying this!

I've discussed the issue of blasphemy in several of my classes, and most students seem to agree that the UN General Assembly's attempt to ban criticism of religion is a bad thing. We then talked about the illiberal regimes--which include some democracies (more like mob rule) that don't afford individual conscience & expression. Invariably, however,most students are apt to criticize foreign people and countries without even thinking about the US or western democracies. In the previous post, the illiberal practice by Germany is cited as an example of censorship and violation of individual rights to free speech.

When I press the students a little harder on the question whether we should criticize, even offend, our own political & religious institutions, many reply in the negative! We have free speech, they tell me, so some limits are OK! Thankfully, many students seem willing to allow for maximum free expression, including blasphemy.What to you think about political blasphemy? As in burning the US flag for political protest?

Remember that Afghani student who was sentenced to death last year for promoting women's rights--a blasphemous act in Afghanistan--by distributing an essay questioning passages in the Koran? This past week and appeals court (more like a "cangaroo" court) converted the death sentence to 20 years in prison. If this decision stands, Pervez Kambaksh, will not survive, because the Taliban want him killed. Even if he's pardoned by the president of Afghanistan, there are thousands of others who have been killed, tortured, and sentenced to long prison terms for blasphemy or for promoting a more civil society--including women's rights!

PS. By clicking on the picture (Jesus & Mo), you can open it bigger; the picture on the right is that of Kambaksh being led out of the kangaroo court in Kabul. Clicking on his name in the post connects to the article by The Independent.

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