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Their Democracy, Not Ours

Monday, Dec. 12, 2005 1:14 AM

Ali Mohaqeq Nasab, a publisher and author who returned to Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban's fall has discovered there are still limits to free speech in the nascent democracy. In writing several essays on women's rights and the justice system, Nasab drew sharp criticism from a prominent cleric, who denounced him as an infidel.

Appealing to the legal system for redress, Nasab got a prison sentence, instead. An appeal, instead of obtaining lenience, has prosecutors asking for a much harsher sentence.

Nasab should recant or face execution.

It turns out that Afghan courts are still extremely conservative, guided by shari'a - Islamic religious law.

Perhaps Americans happy with a steady diet of slogans from the Bush Admiinstration may wish to consider the lessons here. Democracy is not a magic fairy dust that can be sprinkled o'er the land, and the freedom to choose includes the freedom to choose that which others might find unacceptable.

But America is hardly in a position to comment when we've rushed legislation into effect based on religious beliefs, as with the Terri Schiavo case, or get our knickers in a knot over the sanctity of marriage, and file lawsuits in honor of Christ's birth.

Nasab still hopes that Karzai or an international organization will intervene. In the meantime, clerics have issued a fatwa calling for Nasab's swift repentence ... or his immediate execution.

According to my stats, at 19:10:18 PST on December 11, I had a visitor whose IP ends in the letters

If you are doing personal surfing, perhaps you shold reconsider the security implications of doing so from work.

On the other hand, if you're chasing terrorists and other subversives and wound up here because of my comments about the Bush Administration and other political themes, I hope you had an enjoyable, but otherwise unproductive visit. Be sure to tell the FBI or other domestic intelligence types not to let the cats out.

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