Afghanistan's Shaky Foundation

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Today, I learned of two disturbing reports on Afghanistan that show how incompatible fundamentalist Islam and tribalism are with freedom. First, there's this hard-hitting must-read at Capitalism Magazine on a woman killed for adultery.

Imag[in]e that you found out that two of your neighbors were committing adultery several houses away from your own. What do you do? If your answer is round up a lynch mob, seize them, beat him, and stone her to death, then you might be a traditional Afghan.

Unfortunately, for 25-year-old Amina, this was not a hypothetical case and she is dead. However, she was not killed for her vices, but for her virtues.

And then there are reports that violent anti-American protests erupted in Afghanistan over allegations that a Koran was desecrated in Guantanamo, Cuba. Although Hamid Karzai tried to downplay the protests on a CNN interview, he later admitted that the inability of his own government to deal with them indicated that his country still needs foreign assistance. Unsurprisingly, Islamofascists were probably involved.
Demonstrations were also reported in several other towns in eastern and southern Afghanistan. High school students in Wardak province blocked the main road south from Kabul for an hour but were persuaded to disperse peacefully, said the local police chief, Basir Salangi.

"The students were peaceful and were shouting," said Mr. Mashal, the Interior Ministry spokesman. "But there were some specific, hard-line religious groups involved. From their activities it looks like it was pre-planned." He added that the violence may have been influenced by religious or extreme elements across the border in Pakistan, whether Taliban influence or Pakistani groups.

Forget the terrorists. They're just foaming at the mouth. What of the peaceful protesters? They are, politically speaking, merely exercising free speech, but what are the protests for? Protection of an inanimate object from destruction. I seriously doubt that any of the peaceful protestors would say something like, "They certainly have the right to destroy a Koran, but that book is a powerful symbol to me." The nearest equivalent in America would be a group protesting desecration of our flag. Most Americans would object to such an act, but would agree that it is protected as freedom of speech. Until and unless Afghanis adopt an attitude towards the Koran like that we have for our flag, they will at the very least agitate against freedom of speech. For a nation whose government is elected, this means that the right to freedom of speech is in serious danger of losing government protection.

-- CAV

PS: Glenn Reynolds has an interesting note about the complicity of the news media in inciting these riots. See also my post on how the media are lulling us to sleep with regards to North Korea.


5-13-05: (1) Corrected typos (HT: Adrian Hester and The General). (2) Clarified last sentence. (3) Added PS.

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