Friday, July 21, 2006

It's Sharia Time

While the world sits back, content in allowing Israel to pound Lebanon for another week because, apparently, that is the agreed amount of time that the pounding should go on, news from elsewhere has scarcely populated the headlines. In no way, however, should that be an indication that things aren't spiralling out of control elsewhere in other of George Bush's experiments with "freedom land."

As the Taliban continues to reassert its de facto control of Afghanistan, word comes that installed President Hamid Karzai, in a complete reversal of the policy objectives of the Bush administration, is now asking the Afghan parliament to reinstate a former Taliban government bureau, the Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. In less florid terms, this department would essentially be religious police. Horror stories had emanted from Afghanistan about the Taliban's brutal treatment of women under Sharia: imprisonment, public beatings and, in some cases, executions for transgression of onerous Sharia laws restricting, indeed, banning the movement of unchaperoned women in public.
Under the Taliban, the virtue and vice department enforced restrictions on women and men through public beatings and imprisonment.

Its agents "beat women publicly for wearing socks that were not sufficiently opaque; showing their wrists, hands or ankles; and not being accompanied by a close male relative."
Education for woman was, of course, banned. Such medieval behaviour was hardly appreciated in much of the modern world and when Karzai came to power, the department was pitched. Karzai's government insists that the religious police will focus on drugs, alchohol and crime; violations of Islamic law, though they fail to explain why the current criminal justice system, such as it is, cannot address such violations.

Of course, such a claim appears at odds with the earlier attempted prosecution of Abdul Rahman, who had converted to Christianity while living and working abroad with an Christian humanitarian group. Thinking Afganistan would be great now that a supposedly moderate government was in place, Rahman returned only to be with chargeed with apostasy, a charge that carried the death penalty. International outrage forced Karzai to back off while external forces spirited Rahman out of the country.

Well, it appears that that incident was just a teaser. Now that fundamentalist "Northern Alliance" warlords pepper Karzai's government, religious crime-stoppers are expected to be back on the Sharia war path. Perhaps the effort is designed to fool the outside world into not noticing the moment when the Taliban are back in charge.

As bin Laden still wanders the hills there, somewhere, and the Taliban moves slowly back into a position of control, having just seized two towns recently, we are presented with the surreal slide back into the very kind of inquisitional society George Bush said he was delivering Aghans from. Now tell me, five years later, what was this all about again? All those billions, all those lives and what has resulted? Nothing. Another classic Republican performance for American taxpayers, brought to them by George W. Bush.


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