Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Taliban Lite

Depressing piece by Christopher Orlet at the American Spectator. Afghanistan is still a religious dictatorship.

The editor was only doing what journalists in free societies take for granted: raising vital issues and encouraging debate. Because of that Ali Mohaqeq Nasab, editor of the Afghan monthly Women's Rights magazine, was arrested Oct. 1, and charged with blasphemy, apostasy, and intentionally publishing anti-Islamic articles. On Oct. 22, he was sentenced to two years in prison.

American soldiers are dying for this:

In Afghanistan only 35 percent of girls attend school, while only 2-3 percent of women have returned to the workforce. Most Afghan families simply don't want women mixing with the opposite sex. Sixty percent of Afghan girls are forced into marriage before they are 16, and few husbands allow their wives to attend school. In the villages a woman will be stoned to death if it is thought she is friendly with a man.

The new government is called “Taliban Lite.” Islamic law trumps the constitution.

THE NEW AFGHAN CONSTITUTION drew praise from the Bush Administration with its supposed freedoms of speech, religion, movement, and equal rights for women and minorities, and in particular its requirement that 25 percent of the legislative seats in the Loya Jirga be set aside for women. What the Administration chose to ignore is the fact that Islamic law trumps all of the so-called freedom guarantees in the constitution. The constitution states that "no law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam" (Article 3). As Freedom House's Paul Marshall pointed out in a National Review piece, "If the state declares that its laws and decisions are identical with Islam, then any opposition can be punished as violating Islam." That pretty much shuts down criticism of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Mr. Orlet continues:

One wonders what society President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were referring to when they said "Afghanistan is now inspiring the world with its march toward democracy," and (referring to the defeat of the Taliban) that "the Afghan people have now been freed from that horror."

The fact is that the keystones of a free society -- freedom of speech, religion, the press, and equal rights for women -- all remain pretty much the same as under the Taliban. So what has changed for the average Afghani? You may want to ask Ali Mohaquq Nasab, while you still can.

Where does this leave the neoconservative dream of bringing freedom to the middle east? Is it an illusion? Is nation-building a waste of time? Should American soldiers be dying to protect a nation of sharia law? Would we have been better off just bombing the Taliban to smithereens and leaving a note on the rubble that said, “If you threaten us again, we will destroy you again”?

We can kill the enemy, but we can’t make a religious culture free.

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