Archive for May 8th, 2007

Kabul: The Truth is No Defense

Despite the shift in Afghanistan’s ruling power, away from the Taliban’s gun-barrel politics and towards the diplomacy of President Karzai, the country is still a violent mess; and as highlighted by the murder of a local journalist (among countless other tragedies), it is still a very unsafe place to be.

But as Nato’s head argues today that military force “cannot solve Afghanistan,” it would be wise for Karzai to remember the atrocities of the Taliban’s rule, and not reinstate the force of oppression in the name of maintaining sovereignty and morality.

It appears that new oppressive mesaures have already been taken – The New York Times reported Monday that the Afghan Parliament is considering a bill that will cripple the nation’s free press:

The proposal before Parliament would prohibit coverage seen as violating the provisions of Islam or insulting other religions, as well as coverage that insults individuals or corporations, without allowing truth as a defense. It would also prohibit coverage seen as endangering national stability, security or sovereignty. ” [NYT]

The key here is “without allowing truth as a defense.” This essentially means that even if a politician, CEO or general is truly corrupt or abuses power, the media would not be allowed to report it, as it could be construed as an “insult,” or more technically, slander or libel.

It is also worth noting that regulation of media on the basis of Islamic values is reminiscent of the Taliban era.

Fear tactics have worked for the Bush administration here in U.S., and we don’t have bombs exploding on our home turf – so one can imagine how powerful words like “endagering national stability” might be in a place where random violence is a reality, and how such language might be used to justify injustice.

Afghanis should not let fear choke their civil liberties, and honest politicians need not fear a free press.

(Edited: 05/09/2007)


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