Monday, April 20, 2009

Rape law: the American connection

Surely all readers will have heard of the family law signed by President Karzai earlier this year which in effect legalizes marital rape among the Shia population. Writing in the Guardian, Nushin Arbabzadah fills us in on the man behind the law, Asif Mohseni:

At the centre of this complex picture is Ayatollah Asif Mohseni, a Shia cleric and the architect of the new law. He's the owner of Tamadon (civilisation) TV, a privately owned television station with a visual outlook and religious content remarkably similar to Iranian state-run television channels. The night before the protest demonstration of 15 April, which ended in violence and made headlines around the world, the TV station repeatedly broadcast a message advising people to prevent family members attending the protest. In other words, the cleric had anticipated the protest and indirectly prepared the ground for the counter-protest, which resulted in broken windows and stones being pelted at demonstrators.

This, however, should not come as a surprise because Mohseni is far more than a prominent Shia cleric and TV station owner. He's a politician whose career has been far from uncontroversial. Mohseni, born in Kandahar in 1936, is the founder of the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan, a Shia anti-Soviet resistance movement... (link)
But Arbabzadah misses one interesting fact about Mohseni's history: He was imprisoned in 1980 by the Ayatollah Khomeini regime on account of documents obtained from the captured US embassy in Tehran which stated that Mohseni's party Harakat-i Islami had obtained money from the CIA. (Barnett Rubin, Fragmentation of Afghanistan, p. 222)