An article written by an Afghanistan newspaper triggered many protests in various Afghan cities on Friday October 24th. Supporters of the Islamic faith were offended by the writings of AJ Ahwar, who strongly criticized all Muslims for remaining silent in the face of the ISIS crisis and the Taliban. A journalist for the Afghanistan Express wrote a strongly worded opinion article about the Islamic religion and addressed the idea that their religion rejects other religions and does not accept minorities such as homosexuals or the Shia minority group in Afghanistan. Ahwar also pointed out that humans are far more important than God and that the Divine is unwise, which seemed to particularly cause an uproar in Afghanistan citizens. Protestors argued that it was unjust for people to insult the prophet, the Qur’an and Islam and insisted that the government must stop people like this from leaving the country and must be punished. The protests were initiated after a public chaos following a brutal rape in Kabul. The president of that time, Hamid Karzai, called for the perpetrators of the rape to be executed. Protestors, after the article issue, are hoping that the newly elected president, Ashraf Ghani, will be just as strict as the last when dealing with the journalist. However, during his campaign speech, Ghani did point out that he will try to entail more freedom of the press as his predecessor made a poor move by attempting to diminish freedom of the press.
In Canada , as stated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, every individual has fundamental freedoms, one of which is freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press. However, freedom is restricted to the point in which no harm is done to other individuals. To my understanding, the law regarding freedom of the press is similar in Afghanistan. The government owns a fair amount of media in Afghanistan and there are restrictions to freedom of the press such as blasphemy against Islam. In my opinion, the freedom of expression is a valuable asset all around the world, however, I believe journalists should especially censor the materials they publish as it is bound to have public backlash. It’s true that freedom of the press is something we all deserve to have, but as stated before, it should only be to a certain extent, in which it will not harm other people, which in this case it has because it has caused emotional distress to the Islamic state. I do believe that the journalist should be reprimanded for his actions, however not to the extent that President Karzai would have done, resulting in death. Perhaps President Ghani should suspend the writers publishing rights for a certain amount of time and subject him to a public apology in the Afghanistan Express.
Propaganda, as described in class, can be defined has an inherently deceitful process of persuasion and is morally reprehensible. People use words, images, symbols, ideas to manipulate individuals and groups, and thus can never be justified. By writing such an article in the newspaper, it seems as if AJ Ahwar was a player in the game of propaganda and wanted to extend his opinion to the rest of the population and hoped that his article would persuade others to think and feel the same way. However, this was hard to do for Ahwar since he was writing blasphemous articles towards the Islamic faith in an Islamic country. Hence, it’s clear that Ahwar’s attempts at propaganda were not successful, instead it caused uproar in the entire country. Ahwar followed the essence of propaganda, as we discussed in class, which consist of organization, specific communication techniques, method, and a goal. He purposefully organized and wrote this article with a certain result in mind and he used his job at the newspaper to do this. He wished to create a world view and wanted to create political/religious commitments by insulting the Islamic faith and attempting to enforce the idea that humans are far more important that God.
It is evident that the newly elected President of Afghanistan, Ghani, truly does support the freedom of expression as he has denied the order of not arresting the staff of the newspaper. He also invited Matthew Rosenberg, a New York Times reporter, back into the country, after the last president had expelled him after writing controversial articles. After this uproar, the Afghanistan express came forward and stated that this article was just a “technical mistake”. However, in my belief, the newspaper agreed to releasing this opinion column. Since the government owns most of the media in Afghanistan, perhaps President Ghani played a role in this and released this article as a way to display his new support of freedom of expression. The president that a country has truly reflects the kind of ruling the country follows and at this point in time, I’m sure that Afghanistan citizens wished that Karzai was still in office.