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Oklahoma | I went inside death row, what I saw made me sick - Henry McLeish

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The evolution of civilised behaviour, indicating a retreat from barbarism, has become a distinctive feature of most modern western democracies, but America often disappoints, retaining practices that shock, sadden, and in my case, nearly made me physically sick.
My visit to death row at McAlester State Penitentiary, Oklahoma, brought home to me, how the final setting for government sponsored killings, combined with execution by lethal injection, brought a brutal end to lives. And made a mockery of the idea of justice, offering instead a violent, humiliating, and inhuman act of revenge, with no serious pretence that any of these end of life dramas, provide any deterrence in criminal justice terms. Formerly known as “Indian Territory”, and home of the Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, with a population of over 4 million, became a state in 1907. Located in America’s “Bible” belt, where there is a strong fundamentalist Christian tradition and powerful Republican politics, Oklahoma remains a pro…

Death Sentence for Afghan Student

KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan court in northern Afghanistan sentenced a journalism student to death for blasphemy for distributing an article from the Internet that was considered an insult to the Prophet Muhammad, the judge in charge of the court said Wednesday.

The student, Sayed Parwiz Kambakhsh, 23, who also works for a local newspaper, was charged with insulting Muhammad by calling the prophet “a killer and adulterer,” the judge, Shamsurahman Muhmand, said in a telephone interview.

The sentence was denounced as unfair by Mr. Kambakhsh’s family and journalists’ organizations. Mr. Kambakhsh’s brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, denied that his sibling had committed blasphemy, and said that his brother was not given enough time to prepare his defense and was denied a lawyer.

Mr. Kambakhsh has the right of appeal to the regional court and the Supreme Court.

He is being punished for articles written by his brother, said Jean Mackenzie, director of the Institute for Peace and War Reporting in Afghanistan, which has printed some of Mr. Ibrahimi’s articles. Officials from the National Directorate of Security raided Mr. Ibrahimi’s home and seized his computer hard drive the day after his brother was arrested in October, she said. They were most interested in the sources for an article critical of a local militia leader and legislator named Piram Qol, she said.

The case is the third time that clerics have called for death for a blasphemer in the six years since the removal of the Taliban leadership and reflects the deep conservatism that prevails even under the more liberal government of President Hamid Karzai.

Mr. Kambakhsh is a student in the town of Mazar-i-Sharif and also works as a reporter for a daily paper, Jahan-e-Naw. He was accused of downloading a controversial article and adding some of his own words about the ignorance of the Prophet Muhammad on women’s rights.

Source: The New York Times

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