Thursday, February 21, 2008

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?

A recent story in The Los Angeles Times, "Afghan student's defenders may doom him," implies that well-intentioned human rights advocates from the west are actually strengthening the resolve of hardliners to execute Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh for blasphemy on the basis of sharing anti-polygamy materials he downloaded from the Internet. I'm not sure that they are drawing the right moral, since online petition drives are notoriously ineffective and the case has not gotten much press in the U.S.. Reporters without Borders has a page that defends him on journalistic grounds, but many other human rights groups have yet to do much Internet activism that focuses on his case.

Nonetheless, perhaps behind-the-scenes diplomatic pressures on head of state Hamid Karzai from coalition countries are creating problems for maintaining the appearance of sovereignty in the embattled nation, although the U.S. has hardly been an exponent of digital rights of late, particularly in China. Although the offender has apologized for the incident, it's difficult to have him pardoned now that his sentence has been upheld. But as one supporter of the student within the country complained, "The judges did not even know the difference between a keyboard and a monitor."

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home