Afghan Student Faces Death for Blasphemy

Journalist condemned for reading document on women, Koran
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2008 8:43 AM CST
Moulvi Shamas-ul- Rehman Moomand head of the Primary Provincial Appeals Court, who has sentenced Sayad Parwez Kambaksh to death gestures during a press conference at the court in Mazar-i-Sharif the capital...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Protesters in Afghanistan and abroad have taken up the cause of a journalism student sentenced to death for blasphemy after he downloaded and distributed a document on women and the Koran. Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, 23, was convicted in an Islamic court, and the country's Senate has upheld the ruling. He appears on the cover of today's Independent alongside calls for his release.

Senior clerics in Afghanistan have come down hard on Kambaksh, whom they accuse of insulting the Koran. But within the country and internationally, observers say the sentence is intended to stamp out the free press—Kambsaksh's brother has also written exposés on the criminal activity of officials. "How can we believe in this 'democracy' if we can't even read, we can't even study?" asked the head of the journalists' union. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)