Hey, do you remember back when we first launched the war in Afghanistan how BushCoTM kept chanting their vision for “an Afghanistan that is prosperous, democratic, self-governing, market friendly and respectful of human rights” as the outcome of that war? Remember that? Sounded great, didn’t it? Then could someone tell me what the fuck this is all about:
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP)—Two journalists accused of publishing articles that defamed Islam were released Wednesday after a week in prison but will still face trial, President Hamid Karzai said.
The weekly newspaper Aftab printed an article June 11 saying the Muslim world had not seen progress in 1,400 years and accused leaders in Afghanistan’s north of building palaces with “bloody hands.”
Chief editor Sayed Mahdawi and his Iranian deputy, Ali Riza Payam, were arrested June 17. Karzai said he ordered them released but they will still go to trial.
“We don’t consider what they have written to be the freedom of the press,” Karzai said before leaving for Poland. “Freedom of the press does not mean that you can go and attack the beliefs of millions of people.”
The case has exposed fault lines between Islamic conservatives and liberals within Karzai’s U.S.-backed administration.
Defamation of Islam is an extremely sensitive topic in Afghanistan, a pious Muslim country that has been led by fundamentalist religious conservatives since the 1990s. Many of them are back in power following the ouster of the Taliban in 2001.
Aftab has also published articles calling for a secular government—bringing anonymous death threats.
Karzai said he did not mind when the press was critical of him or his government, but religion was another matter.
“The press has been critical of the government, the press has been critical of me personally for all these times, they’ve even abused us, but I have not taken action against them,” Karzai said. “But when it comes to the Afghan people’s religious beliefs… it is also our job to protect that.”
Ah, the joys of state-sanctioned religion! Say what you want about me, but don’t be dissin’ my homey Muhammad!
I bet the only part about this development that pisses off the fundies here in the States is that the religion du jour isn’t Christianity.