Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Push to Reform Traditionalist Afghan Courts

February 21, 2006
Kabul – Head of Afghanistan’s Supreme Court and Islamic scholar Fazel Hadi Shinwari says that the country’s courts must be governed by Shari’a or civil war will break out, The Christian Science Monitor reported Tuesday in a piece about the growing call from the West to “reform and professionalize the judicial system.”

Shinwari has banned feminist Sima Samar from holding a cabinet position because she reportedly said she did not believe in Shari’a; he has banned an Afghan TV station for showing “half-naked singers”; he has discouraged co-education; and he has called for the arrest of a journalist who said that sometimes the Koran was open to interpretation.

Western leaders want Afghanistan to bring in judges who are versed in civil law as well as Shari’a, both men and women, but some fear that Shinwari’s prediction that such a move could lead to conflict may be right.

The Monitor reports:
“Instability has long been President Hamid Karzai's chief concern. But when a group of European diplomats brought a démarche, or diplomatic petition, to Mr. Karzai on Feb. 11, demanding reform of the Supreme Court, insiders braced themselves for the worst. European diplomats say the démarche was merely a friendly reminder, and Afghan spokesmen say they intend to abide by promises to professionalize the court - bringing in judges, male and female, who know as much about civil law as they do religious law. But privately, some officials worry that taking on religious conservatives like Shinwari could be severely destabilizing.”
To read the full story, click here.


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