Afghan newspaper’s ‘blasphemy’ causes protests after rebuking Isis and Islam

Protesters hold placards and shout slogans against the Afghanistan Express, in Jalalabad. Photograph: Ghulamullah Habibi/EPA

Comment piece in Afghanistan Express launched ‘by technical error’ also attacked Taliban and said Islam is parochial religion

4482587731_dd35ce1fceA newspaper columnist condemning Islamic State (Isis) and the Taliban triggered demonstrations in several Afghan cities on Friday, with protesters denouncing the article as blasphemous and calling on the government to punish the publication.

In Kabul, a crowd of approximately 500 people, including clerics and several members of parliament, gathered in front of the Eid Gah Mosque, the city’s second largest house of worship.

“The government must stop the people who insulted the prophet, the Qur’an and Islam, and prevent them from leaving the country,” said Fazl Hadi Wazin, an Islamic scholar at Salam University who spoke from the outdoor podium.

In an opinion piece published last week in the English-language daily the Afghanistan Express, a journalist named AJ Ahwar admonished Muslims for remaining silent in the face of Isis and the Taliban.

He also criticised Islam for not accepting other religions and minorities such as homosexuals and Hazaras, a Shia minority in Afghanistan.

The article ended by concluding that human beings are more important than God, which seemed to particularly incense protesters…

In a public apology issued days after the controversial article, the Afghanistan Express explained that the op-ed was published due to a “technical mistake”. The apology, however, has done little to quell the anger…