Afghan Court Upholds Student Journalist’s 20-Year Sentence for Blasphemy

March 12, 2009


The International Herald Tribune   reports that the Supreme Court of the country formally known as the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has upheld a 20-year prison sentence for an Afghan university student accused of blasphemy.  His alleged crime? Writing and distributing an article criticizing the role of women in Islam.

The 24-year-old student, Parwiz Kambakhsh, was sentenced to death in 2007 after accusations that he had written and distributed the article in question.  Last year a Kabul appeals court commuted the death sentence to 20 years’ imprisonment.  Kambakhsh disclaims authorship of the article, saying he downloaded it from the Internet.

Kambakhsh’s lawyers and his family say he has been denied a fair trial.  Afzal Nooristani, a defense lawyer for Kambakhsh, said that he "was not allowed to talk with the judges and officials, which is a complete violation of law."  Kambakhsh’s defense team and his family only learned about the Supreme Court’s decision recently.  The decision was made in in secret on February 12, and only came to light when the attorney general’s office issued orders to enforce it.

According to the Tribune, Kambakhsh’s brother issued a statement decrying "the tragic level of justice in Afghanistan today. It is just a make-believe system of justice and humanitarianism. The reality is that the Afghan government and judiciary, although supported by the U.S., the UN, the EU and other democracies worldwide, is morally bankrupt."  Human rights organizations and many Western diplomats agree: although Afghan president Hamid Karzai has made assurances of freedoms of press and speech, the Afghan news media has suffered from   threats and attacks from the Taliban and   pressure from the Afghan government .  Karzai’s critics allege that he is unwilling to cross religious clerics in an election year.



#1 Benjamin Radford on Thursday March 12, 2009 at 10:04am

My calendar says it’s 2009… what the hell is going on?

#2 Yellow Dog (Guest) on Thursday March 12, 2009 at 12:27pm

Let’s not forget this is the Supreme Court of the government we installed.

To repeat, this is not a Taliban leftover - this is the American-installed government that has sentenced a teenager to death.  (How low do you think he’ll actually survive in the hell of an Afghan prison?)

Your tax dollars at work.

#3 Yellow Dog (Guest) on Thursday March 12, 2009 at 12:29pm

LONG.  How LONG he’ll survive. 

How about a preview function?

#4 Guest (Guest) on Friday March 13, 2009 at 3:56am

This is exactly why religious points of view should get about as much credit or validation as the guy who wears the ” End is near ” sign. If you want to believe such things, fine. Don’t expect any kind of say when it comes to policy or law.

The hardest thing about these stories other than the result facing the victim is trying to understand why a mature adult/ adults would think taking 20 years or worse from another human being for having a different view is acceptable.


#5 Guest (Guest) on Friday March 13, 2009 at 3:57pm

I totally agree with Yellow Dog.  This is the government of Hamid Karzai at work with its abuse of power and egregious corruption.  Karzai was never qualified to be President and never would have been had it not been for his 1980’s connections to the Bushes.

#6 Guest (Guest) on Friday March 13, 2009 at 4:03pm

That’s a shame.

#7 joshualipana on Tuesday March 17, 2009 at 11:50pm

Damn it. Islam and I mean all of it simply must go.

#8 Ophelia Benson on Wednesday March 18, 2009 at 2:42pm

There is a Facebook group ‘Pardon Pervez Kambakhsh’ here -

Reporters Without Borders have a petition to Karzai here -

#9 Frank Brown (Guest) on Thursday March 19, 2009 at 12:34pm

This is one of many unjust cases settled by the Afghan Judicial System. You would think that the U.S. would pressure them more to uphold civil rights/freedom of speech laws. I feel sorry for this man and his family. I hope his case is dismissed.

Immigration lawyer

#10 Ehsanullah Ehsan (Guest) on Sunday April 05, 2009 at 12:05am

The dollars have not been invested in right people and right offices. The dollars have gone to warlords, fuedals and tribal lords (all of them polygamists), which in return have backfired and caused lawlessness, insurgency, women rights violation / human rights violatons. And under increased threats from outlawed and lawless elements, courts or any other offices will always have to make decision that appease ...

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