On Tuesday January 22nd last week, a 23-year-old student of journalism was sentenced to death at a court in Mazar-i-Sharif in Balkh province, in the north of Afghanistan. A panel of three judges sentenced Sayad Parwez Kambaksh, of Balkh University, for committing a "crime" that should have no place in a modern society. Kambaksh had breached Afghan law by "insulting Islam."
Kambaksh (also spelled Kaambakhsh) also worked as a journalist for the newspaper Jahan-e Naw ("The New World"). He brought into his university class a page downloaded from an Iranian internet site. This was of an article that questioned why Muslim men can have four wives while women have no such rights.
According to Hafizullah Khaliqyar, the deputy attorney general of Balkh province: "Based on the crimes Parwez Kaambakhsh committed, the primary court sentenced him to the most serious punishment which is the death penalty."
The court at which Kambaksh was tried was not open to the public, and the student was not allowed any defense lawyers. The "crime" took place last fall, and since his arrest by agents of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) on October 27th, Kambaksh has been in jail. He is still in prison, while his appeals process continues. Under current conditions, there is little chance Kambaksh will be reprieved, unless President Hamid Karzai intervenes. He has to appeal to two courts, and the death penalty can not be enacted until ratified by a higher court.
The legal problems facing Kambaksh reflect problems with the national constitution. They also involve religion. The week before he appeared in court, religious clerics from Balkh and Kunduz provinces held a demonstration in Mazar-i-Sharif, urging the government not to release him. The Council of Mullahs called for Kambaksh's death.
There are also political issues which appear to indicate that Kambaksh is being used as pawn to place pressure on other journalists who have exposed corruption, including his older brother. ...
Read the full article at the link.