Man Publicly Beaten in Kabul

AP, March 12, 1999

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A young man found guilty of fornication writhed and screamed Friday as Taliban soldiers publicly beat him 100 times with a leather strap in Kabul, witnesses said.

It was the latest example of Islamic justice by Afghanistan's ruling Taliban religious army, which executes murderers in public, cuts off the limbs of thieves and beats lesser offenders.

The woman in the case, identified only as Farzana, was spared a similar beating because she was nine months pregnant. However Qari Mohammed Sadiq, a Taliban spokesman, said she will also receive 100 lashes after the baby is born.

The punishment was a public beating because both were unmarried. Had they been married, Sadiq said the couple would have been stoned to death in keeping with strict Islamic injunctions.

Sadiq said couple will either marry after the baby is born "or we will put him in the orphanage.''

Three Taliban soldiers carrying automatic rifles brought Saeed Sarwar in chains to the Amani High School grounds, opposite the presidential palace in the heart of Kabul. Witnesses said he took the first 30 lashes stoically, but as the beating continued he cried out in pain.

After the punishment, an Islamic cleric Mullah Sanaullah extolled the virtues of the Taliban's Islamic society, which now controls 90 percent of the country.

Under Taliban rule, women must cover their face and wear an all-enveloping long sheath called a burqua, cannot work outside the home and cannot leave the home unless accompanied by a male relative. Girls are not allowed to go to school and men must grow beards and pray at the mosque.

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