Now they want to put him to death -- Ali Mohaqeq Nasab, the Afghan editor already sentenced to two years hard labor for "blasphemy" against Islam. Now, Afghan prosecutors want to put him to death.
Why? The Muslim editor of "Women's Rights" magazine published articles in post-Taliban Afghanistan that criticized aspects of Islamic law, including the penalties of stoning for adultery, amputation for theft and death for leaving Islam.
"Sometimes the whole religion and the rules of the religion were attacked," explained Muhammad Aref Rahmani, who sits on Afghanistan's council of Islamic scholars.
Attacked? "For instance," Mr. Rahmani told the Chicago Tribune, "he says one woman should be equal to one man, as a witness in a case, which is completely against our religion."
Yes, those seismic vibrations rolling across your eardrums are the sound of culture clash. Under Islamic law, a woman's court testimony is worth half as much as a man's -- another rank inequality Mr. Nasab's magazine opposed -- so I guess you could say Mr. Rahmani has an Islamic point. Of course, such Islamic "crimes" equal Western virtues. This, it seems, leaves Afghan officials unimpressed.
"The decision made by the lower court on Mohaqeq Nasab will in no way satisfy the public prosecutor's office," Zmarai Amiri told the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Mr. Amiri ought to know: He's Kabul's chief prosecutor. "Nasab must be punished more severely, up to and including execution." There are sure to be more arrests, Mr. Amiri continued rather Stalinistically, if anyone, including government officials, comes to Mr. Nasab's defense.
So much for post-Taliban -- and, come to think of it, post-Operation-Enduring-Freedom -- life in Afghanistan. Maybe the more useful exercise here is not to wonder how we became midwife to a theocratic police state, but to see what we can learn from it. One thing is clear: where Islam is protected from so-called blasphemy, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech -- let alone women's rights -- are not.