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Muslim Reporters Jailed For Criticizing Islam

From those keepers of the faith at Al Jazeera:

Azerbaijan -- Rafig Tagi, writer, [l] and Samir Sedagetoglu, editor-in-chief of the Senet newspaper in Nasimi District Court, Baku, 19Mar2007

Journalists Rafik Tagi (left) and Samir Sadagatoglu at a Baku court.

Azeris jailed for ‘insulting Islam’

A court in Azerbaijan has jailed two journalists for writing and printing a newspaper article that was critical of the Islamic religion and its founder, Muhammad.

Samir Sadagatoglu, chief editor of the Senet weekly newspaper, was sentenced to four years in prison on Friday, while Rafik Tagi, a journalist at the paper, was given three years.

The court ruled that their article ‘Europe and us’ was insulting to Islam and Muslims for saying that European societies were more successful than Muslim ones because Christian teachings were based on peace and tolerance while Islamic values, based on the teachings and actions of Muhammad, were not.

“It was announced during sentencing that … the article contained ideas charged with hatred for Islam and the Prophet Mohammad and these actions of the paper were directed towards inciting religious hatred and enmity,” the court’s spokesman said after the guilty verdict was announced.

The newspaper article provoked widespread anger in Azerbaijan, a secular but predominantly Shia Muslim country, and elsewhere in the region when it was first published on November 9, 2006.

Soon after the article appeared, an Iranian cleric – angered by its depiction of Islam as a violent religion – offered his house to anyone who killed the journalists, Reuters reported on Friday.

The two journalists – both of whom are Muslims – have said that the trial in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, was an attack on their right to freedom of speech.

“A person can’t be condemned for their opinions,” Sadagatogli told the court…

At the court’s final session in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, fighting broke out in the courtroom as Muslims who were watching the proceedings tried to kill the two journalists, the AFP newsagency reported.

Last November, Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Muhammad Fazel Lankarani, a senior Shia scholar from Tabriz, a mainly Azeri city in northern Iran, ruled that the two journalists should be killed for writing and publishing the article.

“Such a person is an apostate in view of his confessions, if he is a Muslim,” Lankarani ruled in a fatwa – or religious ruling – published on his website.

“If he had been an unbeliever (Kafir), he is considered as someone who has insulted the Prophet and in any case, given his confessions, it is necessary for every individual who has an access to him to kill him.

“The person in charge of the said newspaper, who published such thoughts and beliefs consciously and knowingly, should be dealt with in the same manner. We pray to Almighty Allah to grant Muslims and Islam protection from the evils of their enemies.”

Ashurov, the journalists’ lawyer, has previously said that he would appeal if the men were convicted.

And here indeed is the fatwa in question, from yet another Ask The Imam site:

Death ruling for the insulters of Holy Prophet (pbuh) in Senat newspaper

News – In response to a letter sent by a number of followers from the Republic of Azerbaijan, Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani called for the death of the individuals who insulted the Holy Prophet of Islam in Senat newspaper.  Text of the letter and the fatwa issued by Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani is as under:

In the name of Allah, the Most Exalted

To, Esteemed religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Muhammad Fazel Lankarani (may Allah grant him long life)

Recently one of the Azeri newspapers named Senat has published an article from Rafiq Tagi, an apostate journalist causing fury and wrath among Muslims of the region. (A translation of his article is enclosed.)  The writer of the article is trying to conclude with his analysis that Europe and its religion, Christianity are superior in all aspects to the Middle East and its religion, Islam. He describes Islam as inferior to Christianity in all aspects. In a section of his article he has insulted the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and ridiculed all sanctities of Islam. And at the end of the article, the writer has declared that he has written the article intentionally, knowingly and with full knowledge of its consequence. He has vowed to write more.

Moreover, this same newspaper has many a number of times attacked, disrespected and desecrated Islamic sanctities and it has even published pages from “Satanic Verses” by Salman Rushdie.

Question: What is the duty of Muslims with regard to this unbearable issue?

Your Followers from Azerbaijan

In the name of Allah, the Most Exalted

Such a person is an apostate in view of his confessions, if he is a Muslim.  If he had been an unbeliever (Kafir), he is considered as someone who has insulted the Prophet and in any case, given his confessions, it is necessary for every individual who has an access to him to kill him. The person in charge of the said newspaper, who published such thoughts and beliefs consciously and knowingly, should be dealt with in the same manner.  We pray to Almighty Allah to grant Muslims and Islam protection from the evils of their enemies.

يُرِيدُونَ لِيُطْفِؤُوا نُورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَاللَّهُ مُتِمُّ نُورِهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ

They want to put out the light of God with their mouths, but God will certainly make His light shine forever – even though the disbelievers may dislike this (61:8).

Muhammad Fazel Lankarani
24/11/2006

Such holy people.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, May 5th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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