Following up on my previous blog post on this subject, it appears the government of Afghanistan has actually decided to pay attention to the growing international outrage over the “legalized rape” law, and has ordered a review, as Reuters reports:

Afghanistan’s Justice Ministry said on Monday a law for the country’s Shi’ite minority is on hold and under review after provoking an outcry in the West over concerns about women’s rights.

Shi’ite Muslims account for some 15 percent of the population of mainly Sunni Muslim Afghanistan and the wide-ranging Shi’ite Personal Status Law aims to enshrine differences between the two sects.

Critics say the law legalises marital rape, and some lawmakers allege Karzai signed it hastily because he faces a crucial election on Aug. 20 and wants to curry favour with Shi’ite voters, who could help swing the contest.

The criticism has even come from inside the country, where president Hamid Karzai has been accused of signing the law without reading it, as (Germany’s) Der Spiegel explains:

Member of parliament Sabrina Saqeb is likewise outraged. “I suspect that Karzai didn’t even read the law through. He was just depending on the word of the Hazara,” she told SPIEGEL ONLINE, referring to the primarily Shiite ethnic group.

Of course, not everyone in the world is upset over this law. The usual suspects (i.e. raging, sanctimonious, misogynistic Islamist fundamentalists) are cheering it on, as Der Spiegel adds:

Praise for Karzai comes from an uncomfortable quarter: the Taliban, who Karzai likes to describe as “the enemies of Afghanistan.” “The Shiite law is similar to the rules of the Taliban. We support it,” Sabihulla Mujahed, who claims to be a Taliban spokesman, told SPIEGEL ONLINE by telephone. Just how tight Mujahed’s ties to the Taliban’s political leadership really are remains unclear.

Der Spiegel continues to explain the pressures Karzai is under, to accomodate the raving fundamentalists in Afghanistan:

Upcoming presidential elections in Afghanistan likely played a role in Karzai’s signing of the law. His re-election is in no way a sure thing and his influence outside of the capital Kabul is limited. Many in Afghanistan consider him to be little more than a Western puppet and he has few successes to point to. Support for Karzai is particularly thin in religious circles, leading many to suspect that the new law is an attempt to win over the ultra conservative. He may also be hoping to win a few extra votes from among the Hazara.

For anyone who’s interested in learning more about the Hazara people, here’s an Answers.Com link. While the Hazara aren’t numerous, currying the favor of 9% of Afghanistan’s population (i.e. the Hazara) would certainly be of some help. President Karzai is selling the welfare of his own country’s Shi’ite women in exchange for political favor.

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