Monday, December 04, 2006

Background on the Tagi Affair

I have blogged previously about the plight of Azeri journalist Rafiq Tagi, but here is some additional background on his situation. In early November, Tagi published a newspaper article critical of certain aspects of Islam. In response, on November 15th, Azeri authorities ordered that Tagi and his editor, Samir Sadaqatoglu, be jailed for two months. This article from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) offers further details on the origins of the crisis:

The article, in the "Sanat" newspaper, said Islam was blocking development and that the Prophet Muhammad had created only problems for Eastern countries.

The publication prompted protests in Nardaran, a stronghold of conservative Islamic values north of Baku, where residents threatened to kill its author.

The court on November 15 ruled the two journalists could he held for up to two months in custody while the case was investigated.

The imprisonment of Tagi and Sadaqatoglu, part of a broader crackdown on independent media by the Azeri regime, is outrageous enough. However, the Tagi affair now took a turn both frightening and surreal.

On November 20th, Iranian cleric Ayatollah Morteza Bani Fazl offered his house to anyone who murdered Mr. Tagi. Not to be outdone, on November 25, senior Iranian cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Fazel Lankarani published a fatwa on his web site calling for Tagi and Sadaqatoglu to be killed. As RFE/RL notes, this makes Lankarani the third Iranian ayatollah to issue such an appeal.

The last time that Iranian clerics openly called for the murder of a foreign writer was Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's infamous 1989 fatwa against Salman Rushdie. While Rushdie himself thankfully escaped harm, at least 38 others were killed as a result of the fatwa. Just as important, the Rushdie affair set a precedent for radical Islamists seeking to violently suppress criticism of Islam, both within the Muslim world and beyond it. Now, Iranian clerics are citing the Rushdie fatwa in ordering the murders of Tagi and Sadaqatoglu. This time, the civilized world must make it abundantly clear to Iran's theocracy that censorship by murder will not be tolerated.

For further information, see this great post by Michelle Malkin.


Anonymous davod said...

Rushdie was in a position to be helped. These guys will be lucky to survive prison.

6:36 PM  

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