Literally. You may recall my February 5, 2008 essay about the bizarre death penalty verdict imposed on a student, Perwiz Kambakhsh, in Afghanistan. This is an update.
The New York Times is reporting that Perwiz Kambakhsh, a reporter, has been re-sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment in Afghanistan for blasphemy by an appeals Court. His previous sentence was death. This is an improvement, yes, but the outcome is still beyond comprehension.
Afghanistan's appeal court sentenced an Afghan journalist to 20 years in jail, commuting an earlier death sentence, for distributing an Internet article that said the Prophet Mohammad had ignored the rights of women.The offense was distributing an internet article to others. As my previous essay, quoting the Independent, explained:
Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, a reporter with the Jahan-e Now daily, was sentenced to death in January by a court in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
The arrest and sentencing of Kambakhsh, also a university student, drew criticism from a number of Western nations, the Afghan media and rights groups. Kambakhsh downloaded an Iranian article from the Internet and distributed it to friends.
"The court has sentenced Mr. Perwiz Kambakhsh to 20 years jail for the crime he has committed. But this is not the final hearing, he has the right to appeal," judge Abdul Salaam Qazizada told the court.
Under Islamic law -- stipulated in Afghanistan's constitution -- blasphemy is punishable by death.
A young man, a student of journalism, [was] sentenced to death by an Islamic court for downloading a report from the internet. /snip
He was accused of blasphemy after he downloaded a report from a Farsi website [i.e. an Iranian one] which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed.
Mr Kambaksh, 23, distributed the tract to fellow students and teachers at Balkh University with the aim, he said, of provoking a debate on the matter. But a complaint was made against him.
Is this blasphemous, namely
1. a. A contemptuous or profane act, utterance, or writing concerning God or a sacred entity.
b. The act of claiming for oneself the attributes and rights of God.
2. An irreverent or impious act, attitude, or utterance in regard to something considered inviolable or sacrosanct?
Well, no. It doesn't appear to fulfill this definition. Or mine. Or yours, probably.
What kind of justice first gives a death sentence and then modifies it to be 20 years of imprisonment for this ill defined an offense?