2 Afghans Face Death Over Koran Translation

Clerics say book aims to replace holy text
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 6, 2009 11:23 AM CST
Six Afghan defendants, including Ahmad Ghaws Zalmai, second left rear, are seen during a trial in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 18, 2009.    (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
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(Newser) – A pocket-size translation of the Koran has landed six men in prison in Afghanistan and left two of them begging judges to spare their lives. They're accused of modifying the Koran, and their fate could be decided Sunday in court. The trial illustrates what critics call the undue influence of hardline clerics in Afghanistan, a major hurdle as the country tries to establish a lawful society amid war and militant violence, the AP reports.

Conservative Muslim clerics rejected the book because it did not include the original Arabic verses, regarded as the word of God, alongside the translation. They said the man who commissioned the printing was trying to anoint himself as a prophet and replace, not just translate, the Koran. Afghanistan has no law forbidding the translation of the Koran, but the courts may apply Islamic Sharia law when no secular statutes pertain.