Mon, Jan 28, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Clerics welcome court's decision

AFP , JALALABAD, Afghanistan

A group of Afghanistan's Islamic clerics welcomed on Saturday a court's decision to sentence a reporter accused of blasphemy to death.

A primary court in the northern province of Balkh on Tuesday sentenced Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, to death for distributing articles downloaded from the Internet that were said to question the Koran.

"We welcome the court's decision," said Asadullah Sajid, one of the top leaders of an Islamic council of religious clerics in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

The statement was made after dozens of members of the conservative council met in Jalalabad, the capital town of Nangarhar near the Pakistani border. At least two other such groups have demanded the reporter be executed.

Sajid, who was reading a statement issued by the clerics after their meeting, said "we strongly demand the international community avoid interfering in Afghanistan courts' decisions."

The statement comes after the US expressed its concern to the Afghan government on Friday over the death sentence for the reporter who has been jailed since October.

Several local and Afghan media rights groups have condemned the reporter's detention and sentencing.

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