Fox News reports:
LONDON — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday she will raise with Afghanistan's U.S.-backed president the case of an Afghan reporter sentenced to death for insulting Islam, a case that has not drawn the same wide U.S. outrage or administration intervention as one involving a Muslim condemned to death for converting to Christianity.
"This is a young democracy," Rice said. "It won't surprise you that we are not supportive of everything that comes up through the judicial system in Afghanistan, and I do think that the Afghans understand that there are some international norms that need to be respected."
A sharp-eyed reader writes: "Really? They understand that? Gosh."
I share the skepticism.
Putting citizens to death for "insulting Islam" has nothing to do with being a "young democracy." (I don't recall the young United States, for example, going through the death-for-blasphemy stage in those early years after the Constitution was ratified.) The fact is, what Rice is calling "international norms" (freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, etc.) are directly at odds with Islamic law--what you might call Islamic norms. This results is a kind of culture clash codified for all to see in a comparison between the Universal Declaration of Human Rights--which guarantees precisely those "international norms" Rice alludes to--and the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights, which denies them according to the dictates of sharia (a comparison explained at some length in my book). Hamid Karzai may ultimately pardon the doomed man, but probably not out of respect for "international norms," but rather to make the story go away. Meanwhile, the chiling sharia effect of Afghanistan's judiciary is reinforced.