Afghan women’s rights magazine editor arrested

 October 7, 2005

Afghan women’s rights magazine editor arrested

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries, is concerned about the arrest of the chief editor of a monthly women’s magazine for publishing allegedly blasphemous articles.

On October 1, chief editor of monthly magazine Haqoq-e-Zan (Woman’s Rights), Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, was arrested for publishing an article that questioned the severity of punishments for adultery and theft, as set out by the most conservative interpretations of Islamic law.

A number of religious leaders condemned the article as un-Islamic and accused Nasab of insulting Islam, an offence under local law.

“Nasab’s arrest and detention is very worrying. This incident could have a chilling effect on press freedom and clearly violates journalists’ rights,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

According to IFJ sources, high-level pressure from religious leaders, including an advisor to the President, prompted the arrest order.

The IFJ is concerned that the law was bypassed in the arrest of Nasab, as Afghan legislation clearly states that journalists can only be arrested after a government-appointed media commission has considered their case.

“The regular and lawful process for arresting a journalist has been unfairly abandoned by the most senior of Afghanistan’s courts. Nasab’s arrest is deeply concerning, and has set a frightening precedent: journalists can be arrested and detained without cause,” said Warren.

According to the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA), Nasab has said that his article is not insulting to Islam and that he is prepared to prove his case in court if necessary.

The IFJ calls for the immediate release of Nasab and urges authorities to ensure Nasab’s case is fairly and duly processed according to Afghan laws.

The editor is being detained in Kabul Province jail.

For further information contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668.

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries