Friday, February 06, 2009

No good deed shall go unpunished

Six Afghans are in prison and two of them face death for the high crime of translating the Quran into a language spoken in parts of Afghanistan.
The pocket-size translation of the Quran has already landed six men in prison in Afghanistan and left two of them begging judges to spare their lives. They're accused of modifying the Quran and their fate could be decided Sunday in court.

[ ... ]

The book appeared among gifts left for the cleric at a major Kabul mosque after Friday prayers in September 2007. It was a translation of the Quran into one of Afghanistan's languages, with a note giving permission to reprint the text as long as it was distributed for free.

Some of the men of the mosque said the book would be useful to Afghans who didn't know Arabic, so they took up a collection for printing. The mosque's cleric asked Ahmad Ghaws Zalmai, a longtime friend, to get the books printed.

But as some of the 1,000 copies made their way to conservative Muslim clerics in Kabul, whispers began, then an outcry.

Many clerics rejected the book because it did not include the original Arabic verses alongside the translation. It's a particularly sensitive detail for Muslims, who regard the Arabic Quran as words given directly by God. A translation is not considered a Quran itself, and a mistranslation could warp God's word.

[ ... ]

Police arrested Zalmai as he was fleeing to Pakistan, along with three other men the government says were trying to help him escape. [You KNOW you're in deep shit when you're fleeing TO Pakistan. --ed.] The publisher and the mosque's cleric, who signed a letter endorsing the book, were also jailed.
Consider this Exhibit "A" of why we'll never succeed in Afghanistan the way we clearly did in Iraq. After we kicked the Taliban's shit to the curb, we allowed the new Afghan government to establish a court system of which the Taliban would be proud.

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