The editor of Haqooq-i-Zan, an Afghan women's rights magazine, has been arrested. Ali Mohaqia Nasab is accused of publishing un-Islamic articles, a violation of Afghanistan's 2004 law regulating the media.
One article in the magazine criticizes the practice of punishing adultery with one-hundred lashes. A second article says that giving up Islam should not be a crime. According to news reports, clerics gave the articles to Mohaiuddin Baluch, who is President Hamid Karzai’s advisor on religious issues.
Mr. Baluch turned the articles over to Afghanistan's Supreme Court. The court called on the country's attorney general to investigate. That investigation led to Mr. Nasab's arrest. Although Mr. Nasab did not write the articles, he is the only person that has been charged. His case is being reviewed by the Press Commission, which is a division of the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture.
Ann Cooper is executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent monitoring organization. In a news release, she says, "We are disturbed by this arrest, which reflects a recent pattern of deteriorating press freedom conditions in Afghanistan. Ms. Cooper says her committee "call[s] for the immediate release of Ali Mohaqiq Nasab. Journalists," she says, "should not be jailed because of their work."
President George W. Bush has said that democracy "requires building the institutions that sustain freedom":
"Democracy takes different forms in different cultures, yet all free societies have certain things in common. Democratic nations uphold the rule of law, impose limits on the power of the state, treat women and minorities as full citizens. Democratic nations protect private property, free speech and religious expression."
Afghanistan is on the road to democracy. And part of its success will depend on allowing journalists – and all Afghans – the freedom to speak their minds.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.