Posted by: becketfund | February 15, 2009

Afghanistan: Twenty-Year Sentence Upheld for Translation of Quran

KABUL – An appeals court in Afghanistan upheld 20-year prison sentences for two men who published a translation of the Quran that drove religious leaders to call for their execution, the AP reported on February 15. The panel ruled on February 15 that the men were guilty of modifying the Quran, a crime punishable by death. However, the three-judge panel reiterated a lower court ruling giving the men 20 years prison sentences. The prosecutor had asked for the death penalty for the two men, Ahmad Ghaws Zalmai, a former spokesman for the attorney general, and Mushtaq Ahmad, a Muslim cleric who signed a letter endorsing the translation. The controversial text is a translation of Islam’s holy book into an Afghan language without the original Arabic verses alongside. Muslims regard the Arabic Quran as words given directly by God. A translation is not considered a Quran itself, and it is believed that a mistranslation could warp the meaning. Zalmai’s lawyer, Abdul Qawi Afzeli, said both men plan to appeal again, pushing the case to the Supreme Court.

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