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Friday, January 25, 2008

Remembering how lucky we are
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I spend a lot of time griping about actual or potential threats to freedom of speech and expression here in the United States. But, I also feel it's important for us to occasionally step back and remember how lucky we are to live in a country like the United States that has greater protections for freedom of the press and freedom of individual expression than most other countries of the world. This Washington Post story today serves as a good occasion to do so.

In Afghanistan this week, a young reporter and journalism student by the name of Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 20, was sentenced to death for speaking his mind. His "crime"? ...

His alleged offense was distributing to classmates a report, printed from a Web site, commenting on a Muslim woman's right to multiple marriages. The article, written in Farsi, which is close to the Dari language spoken in Afghanistan, questioned why men are allowed to have four spouses in Islam while women are denied the same right.

Without a lawyer to represent him, Kambakhsh was hustled Tuesday into a small hearing room where three judges and a prosecutor conducted a five-minute proceeding, according to his older brother. He was then handed a piece of paper saying he had acted against Islam and should be executed, said the brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, who visited him in prison Wednesday night. "There was no defense lawyer, no human rights adviser, no family member, no discussion, nothing," Ibrahimi, a 26-year-old journalist, said by telephone from Mazar-e Sharif. "They did not let him explain. It was a joke."

Makes me sick to my stomach. Hopefully, the pressure being put on the Afghan officials by the U.N., Reporters Without Borders, and other groups will reverse this travesty.

posted by Adam Thierer @ 9:23 AM | Free Speech

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