OCTOBER 1, 2005
Posted October 17, 2005

Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, Haqooq-i-Zan


Kabul’s primary court convicted Nasab on blasphemy charges on October 22, and sentenced him to a two-year jail term. Police arrested the editor of a women’s rights’ magazine in Kabul after local religious leaders accused him of publishing anti-Islamic articles.

The High Court ordered the arrest of Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, editor of the monthly Haqooq-i-Zan (Women’s Rights), after articles published in the magazine were deemed “un-Islamic” and “insulting to Islam” by local clerics, the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) and the Committee to Protect Afghan Journalists reported. An AIJA representative met with Nasab this morning in Kabul’s Central Jail, and the editor denied publishing anti-Islamic material.

A member of the Kabul court, Zmarai Amiri, confirmed to the Pajhwok Afghan News wire service that Nasab was jailed for publishing anti-Islamic articles, which he said is prohibited under Afghanistan’s press law. Amiri did not specify which articles in the magazine were alleged to be anti-Islamic.

A cleric from the outskirts of Kabul filed a police complaint against the magazine three months ago, saying it published material “against Islamic teachings,” Pajhwok Afghan News reported.

President Hamid Karzai signed a revised media law in March 2004 that carried over an existing ban on content deemed “insulting” to Islam. Criminal penalties for press offenses were left vaguely worded, leaving open the possibility of punishment in accordance with the conservative Shariah law. When the law was signed, government officials said that journalists could only be detained with the approval of a 17- member commission of government officials and journalists.

In a report shown on Afghan state television after the verdict, Nasab rejected the conviction: “I do not accept the verdict by the court. It is a forced and illegal court.” He planned to appeal the conviction. Nasab was being held in Kabul’s central jail where he is under threat from other inmates because of the nature of the charges against him.