Sunday, February 24, 2008

A constitution not worth dying for

This is what Canada and NATO soldiers are fighting and dying for.

We know, of course, that big business is really after the oil and mineral rights, and they're using the military system to clear the way.

This doesn't sound like an idea of a system I'd want anything to do with.

"Nowhere is the Afghan conundrum more clearly illustrated than in the case of Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh, the 23-year-old journalism student in northern Afghanistan who has been condemned to death for blasphemy.

“...Justice will be done,” President Hamed Karzai assured the Secretary of State when she brought up the matter at their meeting in Kabul on February 7.

...This was interpreted as a tacit promise to ensure Parwez’s freedom. But for those who have spent a significant amount of time in Afghanistan, the wording was ominous.

...Based on past performance, we have little guarantee that the Afghan concept of justice will be something we can easily recognize or live with.

...What is at stake here is more than the fate of one young man. The world should not ignore the fact that Parwez’s arrest and imprisonment were not an aberration.

...The case, instead, is a symbol of the central contradiction at the heart of the Afghan judicial system, and a worrying sign of the direction in which the country is heading.

...Six years later, it is obvious that we have made a serious miscalculation. The constitution that was to be a milestone on the straight road to democracy contains within it a time bomb that could make cases like that of Parwez Kambakhsh increasingly common.

...Article Three of the Afghan Constitution reads “In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.”

...This one sentence negates all of the ensuing high-sounding rhetoric that guarantees freedom of religion, expression and the media. If the Ulema, or Council of Religious Scholars, is allowed to interpret Islam as it wishes, then almost any act, utterance or publication can be deemed a criminal offence.

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