New Afghan Government Will Still Enforce Shar'ia Law

With the chaos that has followed the change in governments, crime has shot up in Afghanistan, begging the questions of whether the Afghans can be guaranteed justice will be served and whether that justice is any less barbaric than that administered by the repressive Taliban regime just driven from office.

Afghan interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai has said that Afghanistan will follow Shar'ia Islamic law, the eye-for-eye code laid out in the Quran. Leaders of his government have said that some aspects of Western legal systems may be incorporated, but the new law of the land will include stoning adulterers and amputating thieves' hands.

Karzai is vague on the particulars, but clear about direction.

"Someone goes and commits a crime, he must be dealt with according to Islamic Shar'ia. We do follow the Shar'ia absolutely," he said.

But there is no indication that Shar'ia under the new government will be as brutal as it was under the Taliban, when there were executions and amputations every Friday in the soccer stadium in the capital of Kabul.

Some young Afghans think cutting off the hands of thieves is a good deterrent to crime. But others say it is too harsh and permanent.

"It was a positive in that it was an example for all the people to avoid robbery, killing these things," said one Afghan boy.

"If you cut the hand, what should he do without a hand? You don't know when someone is going to change," said another.

Asked about the new policy on amputations and executions, the minister of justice was evasive and said the high courts will decide.

"We haven't made any decisions yet. I can't comment on the work of any ministries," said minister Abdul Rahim Karimi.

Meanwhile, legal experts say these things are not for man to decide.

"This is Allah's law and no one can change it. If anyone does this, it means that's against Islam," said law professor Nasrulla Stanikzai.

Karzai has said it is incumbent on the government to improve conditions here so that people won't feel compelled to steal. But after 23 years of war, plenty of people want to see the harshest forms of punishment imaginable meted out to those who threaten their security.