Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Right to Think Is the Right to Blaspheme

This is one of those definitional, existential, which-side-are-you-on cases:

In late 2007, Mr. Kambakhsh, 24, was charged with blasphemy after he allegedly disrupted classes with questions about women's rights in Islamic society. He was also said to have illegally distributed an article he printed from the Internet, asking why Islam does not give women equal rights, and to have added three paragraphs to the article himself, one of which read: "This is the real face of Islam. ... The prophet Mohammed wrote verses of the holy [Koran] just for his own benefit."

He was convicted and sentenced to death. The sentence was eventually commuted to 20 years in prison when a witness admitted lying about Mr. Kambakhsh's indiscretions.
The man was sentenced to death and then to twenty years in prison for having the wrong opinions. The Afghan authorities need to know that the whole world is watching, and that it is unacceptable and barbaric to punish people for what they think, say, read, write, or otherwise express.

I touched on it before. It needs the widest possible attention and it is getting some -- listed in no particular order:

Human Rights Watch
The brother of the convicted
Stephen Law
Ophelia Benson
The Center for Inquiry
Harry's Place
Obscene Desserts
The Freethinker

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