The Chicago Tribune, 10/22/08, Section 1, Page 15. An article titled "Blasphemy case stirs worry in Afghanistan". The first sentence, "In a case that has illustrated Afghanistan’s drift toward a more radically conservative brand of Islam as well as the fragility of its legal system, an appeals court Tuesday overturned a death sentence for a student convicted of blasphemy but sentenced him to 20 years in prison."
A drift toward a more radical brand of Islam? Fragility of its legal system? Yes, I think you can say this is true.
The Islamic legal system is far more powerful than the version of a western type legal system that is being attempted in Afghanistan. Afghans are used to a much more restrictive system of governance and enforcement. It is natural that a ‘drift’ takes place to move back to where they are more comfortable. If a poll were taken in Afghanistan, I would expect the majority of the population to agree to a severe punishment for Parwiz Kambakhsh. Insulting Islam is no laughing matter. Paragraph 8, "After the death penalty was decreed in his January trial, public demonstrations were held in support of the verdict, and some prominent clerics declared he deserved to be executed for violating the teachings of Islam. "
People like this student are a minority in Afghanistan. This is the case throughout the Middle East and the Islamic world in varying degrees. This is one of the basic issues that this war is all about. I would not be surprised if he were to die in prison. Cultural change can be very slow. And time is NOT on our side.