Jul 7, 2010

Afghanistan's not-so-free press

In November 2008, I received a phone call at my home in Afghanistan from Information Safety and Freedom (ISF) an Italian nongovernmental organization that supports free speech, notifying me that I (and Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, a journalism student at Balkh University), were the two international journalists to receive its award. The winners, I was told, would travel to Italy for an awards ceremony. But I knew that would be impossible -- Kambaksh was in Kabul's prison. In October 2007, Afghan police arrested him for blasphemy, after he allegedly downloaded and distributed information about the role of women in Islamic societies, and he was sentenced to death in early 2008. His sentence was later commuted to 20 years in prison, after outcries from Afghan journalists and right groups. I received the ISF award for my work on a weekly satire cartoon magazine and blog, which was shut down in 2004. I received numerous death threats and was forced to leave the country for seven months that year. Continue reading...


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