Thursday, July 31, 2008

Afghan Journalist Jailed for Blasphemy Faces Death

An Afghan journalist who printed a translation of the Koran in a Persian dialect is on trial for blasphemy and could face the death penalty if convicted. But with threats from various powerful groups, he could face the same fate even if acquitted.

Ghaws Zalmay was arrested last November trying to flee to Pakistan after Afghanistan’s Senate backed a group of powerful Sunni clerics who were calling for his arrest. He was scheduled to have a third hearing in a Kabul court on Wednesday.

Zalmay, who was a spokesman for the Attorney General and head of Afghanistan's Journalists' Union at the time of his arrest, was charged with 13 counts of blasphemy. He is accused of having "written his own Koran" in Dari, one of Afghanistan's official languages. His two brothers and a friend were imprisoned, too, charged with helping him flee.


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