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Afghan Clerics: Peace Process Stalled Until Shari'a Implemented

Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Afghanistan's largest gathering of clerics has called for the revival of strict Islamic law as a way to achieve reconciliation with the Taliban, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.

About 350 members of the Council of Ulema, or religious clerics, gathered on August 12 in Kabul and subsequently released a statement in which they appealed to the Afghan government to implement a strict interpretation of Shari'a, or religious, law, including punishments such as death by stoning for adultery and the cutting off of thieves' hands and feet.

A draft of the council's resolution was reportedly sent to the office of President Hamid Karzai for his approval.

"The lack of implementation of Shari'a [punishment] has cast a negative impact on the peace process," said the 10-point resolution issued after the meeting, Reuters reported.

"We, the ulema and preachers of Afghanistan...earnestly ask the government not to spare any efforts in the implementation of Shari'a punishments," it read.

Amnesty International has called the country's legal system "ill" and urged Karzai not to approve the resolution.

Horya Musadiq, a Kabul-based researcher for Amnesty International, told Radio Free Afghanistan that implementing Shari'a would be degrading and a clear violation of human rights.

"Amnesty International considers punishments such as stoning, executing, or cutting human beings' parts off as totally inhuman," she said. "It is an insult to the human being. We are strongly against it."

The Afghan government should instead enact comprehensive reforms of Afghanistan's judiciary system to comply with international standards.

Musadiq added that she believes the Council of Ulema should not be relied upon as it suffers from a "lack of professionalism," which she said increases the risk of biased or faulty decision-making.