Friday, May 06, 2005

Death Penalty Sought for Sudanese Editor Who Insulted Mohammed

Generally I try to post stories without comment, but this report from yesterday's Sudan Tribune out of Khartoum was sufficiently unsettling that I wondered about its accuracy until the BBC and the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported similar stories.

In April, Mohamed Taha Mohamed Ahmad, chief editor of the newspaper Al Wafiq, published an article written by a well-known Islamic historian. The article examined a 500-year-old Islamic manuscript that claims Mohammed's father was not Abdullah, as Muslims traditionally believe. Taha wrote a commentary next to the article, rejecting its premises.

Not only has the newspaper has been suspended for three days, but the editor is now charged with violating a Sudanese criminal statute that prohibits insulting religion or faith. In accordance with Islamic law which has been implemented in Sudan since 1983, this offense warrants the death penalty and the chief prosecutor is asking for that sentence. A large and angry crowd gathered in front of the court carrying a banner demanding "death to the apostate". The charged journalist refused to be represented by a lawyer and is representing himself. The court postponed the hearing for one day to study papers that had been filed.