Afghanistan Death Penalty For Man Who Spread Koran Translation


Adnkronos International

Karachi, 23 June (AKI)

by Syed Saleem Shahzad


An Afghan journalist accused of distributing an unacceptable translation of the Koran should be put to death, says former Prime Minister Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai.

Former journalist Ghows Zalmay, who was also the spokesman for Afghanistan's Attorney-General, was arrested in November last year for distributing a translation of the Koran into Dari, one of Afghanistan's two official languages.

Ahmadzai, who ran in the 2004 presidential election against current President Hamid Karzai, told Adnkronos International (AKI) he supported the death penalty for Zalmay.

"Today Afghanistan is full of vices. Several Afghan restaurants serve liquor, despite it being illegal and on top of it, such material is distributed," Ahmadzai told AKI.

"I am in favour of his death."

Muslim scholars in Afghanistan reportedly said that the new version of the Koran misinterpreted verses about alcohol, begging, homosexuality and adultery. They also complained that this version was not accompanied by the original version of the Koran in Arabic.

Ghows, 50, is reportedy in jail after being accused of blasphemy and his lawyers say he risks the death penalty. He is expected to face charges in an Afghan court within the next week.

"This is all an American conspiracy to deviate Afghans from their faith," said Al-Hajj Farooq Hussaini, the leader of a Muslim prayer association in the western city of Herat in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

"They want us to be converted Christians or simply atheists. This American occupation of Afghanistan is worse than the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviets," he said.

Hussaini also referred to the case of Abdul Rahman, an Afghan Christian convert who was granted asylum in Italy in 2006. Rahman escaped a possible death sentence in Afghanistan for becoming a Christian.

"Earlier they protected Abdul Rahman who left Islam and converted to Christianity and now they are encouraging the distribution of the fake translations of Koran," said Hussaini who is also the leader of a group led by Ismail Khan, Afghanistan's Energy Minister.

"Ghows Zalmay should be given an exemplary punishment for his crime," he said.

Many Muslim bloggers have labeled some new translations of the Koran, as the "American Koran", which they say is unauthentic and aimed at distracting Muslims from their faith.