Friday, February 6, 2009

Afghans face death over translation of Qu'ran

Afghan demonstrators protest against Ahmad Ghaws Zalmai (11/11/07), a man accused of insulting the Quran by misinterpreting the holy book, in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. An appeals court hearing , Feb. 8, 2009 could decide the fate of Zalmai and five others involved in the reprinting of a Quran into one of Afghanistan's languages (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul).

Let this stand as a cautionary tale to Buddhists who would bicker as to what is and is not "orthodox." Afghanistan was once a seat of Buddhism dominated by Eastern philosophical ideals of ahimsa (non-harming and free inquiry). Like Christianity's severe history of persecution throughout Europe (think Spanish Inquistion) and America (think Salem witch trials) like so many tribal groups, even otherwise peaceful Hindus. (As previously reported in WQ, Indonesia and other Islamic countries already ban Muslims from participating in some yoga classes).
The Islamic onslaught that destroyed Greek, Middle Eastern, and Indian Buddhism was not satisfied to murder "infidels." Rather, any deviation from tradition, any attempt at interpretation, questioning, or reform seems susceptible to overwhelming force:

Death Penalty over Translation of Koran
Heidi Vogt (AP)

KABUL, Afghanistan – No one knows who brought the book to the mosque, or at least no one dares say. 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 trial illustrates what critics call the undue influence of hardline clerics in Afghanistan, a major hurdle as the country tries to establish a lawful society amid war and militant violence.

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. More>>

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