KABUL (AFP) — Afghanistan’s senate has endorsed a death sentence handed down by a court to a reporter and journalism student accused of blasphemy, the parliament media office said Wednesday. The senate, called the Meshrano Jirga (House of Elders), issued a statement Tuesday backing last week’s decision by the Balkh province primary court and criticising international pressure over the case, an official told AFP.
The court sentenced Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, to death for distributing articles downloaded from the Internet that were said to question the Koran and the role of women in Islam. “The Meshrano Jirga endorses the Balkh primary court’s verdict on sentencing to death Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh who has been sentenced over insulting Islam and misinterpretation of Koran verses,” said the statement read to AFP.
The house also “strongly criticises those domestic and international organisations which are pressurising Afghanistan’s government and legal authorities when pursuing such people,” it said. The statement was signed Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, the head of the senate who was briefly Afghan president in the early 1990s and is a close ally President Hamid Karzai. MORE
RELATED: Afghanistan risks sliding into a failed state and becoming the “forgotten war” because of deteriorating international support and a growing violent insurgency, according to an independent study. The assessment, co-chaired by retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones and former U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering, serves as a warning to the Bush administration at a time military and congressional officials are debating how best to juggle stretched warfighting resources.