More than 1,000 angry Muslims demonstrated in eastern Afghanistan Sunday to demand the death penalty for an official accused of insulting the Koran, police and witnesses said.
The attorney general’s spokesman, former journalist Mohammad Ghaws Zalmai, was arrested at the Pakistan border a week ago trying to flee after being accused of misinterpreting the Muslim holy book in a new translation.
“Death to Ghaws Zalmai!” shouted the angry mob in the eastern town of Jalalabad, an AFP reporter in the crowd said. “We want him hanged!”
“He has insulted our religion and must be killed,” the group said.
The demonstrators blocked a main road linking the eastern town to the capital, Kabul, for several hours. Dozens of police officers were on hand to prevent violence.
The conservative parliament last week banned Zalmai from leaving the country days after the distribution of about 6,000 copies of his Dari-language translation, called “Koran-i-Pak” or “clean Koran”.
A commission of clerics and prosecutors is examining the text, which does not include the original Arab verses and is said to differ on several issues, including homosexuality and adultery.
Zalmai is meanwhile being interrogated and police are searching for a cleric who approved his version, said Abdul Rauf Arab, an official in the attorney general’s office.
The Afghan branch of the International Federation of Journalists has said its information was that Zalmai, president of a media union, was accused of not having his version of the holy book certified by an authorised scholar.
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