Faisal Ahmad Shinwari

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Faisal Ahmad Shinwari
Faisal Ahmad Shinwari, 041207-F-5586B-025.jpg
Faisal Ahmad Shinwari, December 2004
Born 1927 (age 86–87)
Shinwar, Afghanistan[1]
Died February 21, 2011
India
Cause of death
Stroke
Nationality Afghan
Other names Fazl Hadi Shinwari
Ethnicity Pashtun
Citizenship Afghanistan
Occupation Islamic cleric
Known for Chief Justice Supreme Court of Afghanistan, 2001–2006
Home town Jalalabad
Religion Sunni Islam

Faisal Ahmad Shinwari (or Fazal Hadi Shinwari) (1927 – February 21, 2011) was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan from 2001 until 2006. He was appointed to the post by Afghan President Hamid Karzai in accordance with the Afghan Constitution approved after the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban government. An ethnic Pashtun from Jalalabad, Afghanistan,[2][3][4] Shinwari died in February 2011 from stroke,[1] he was a member of the Ittehad-al-Islami party.[5]

Early years[edit]

Shinwari was born in the Haska Mina village of Shinwar in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. He completed Islamic studies in Kabul and became a teacher at Ibn-i-Sina High School in 1954. A few years later he moved to Nangarhar and in 1974 he migrated to neighboring Pakistan.[1] In 2002, Shinwari was appointed Chief Justice by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

In 2003 Shinwari spoke out against co-education—the education of boys and girls in shared facilities—while clarifying that he did not object to the education of girls and women in principle, just not in facilities shared with men and boys.[6] Shinwari also led the Supreme Court's efforts to ban Cable TV.[4]

According to Eurasianet Shinwari was responsible for re-instating the ministry formerly known as the "Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice".[4]

In theory, that could play into conservatives’ hands. Even though he has repeatedly distanced himself from the Taliban’s interpretation of Islam, Chief Justice Shinwari is an outspoken advocate of orthodoxy. With a background in religious matters only, Shinwari is seen as sympathetic to the pro-Wahhabist views of Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a former mujaheddin commander and onetime associate of Osama bin Laden. Shinwari’s tenure as Chief Justice drew particular notice in 2003, when he reinstated the hated Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, renamed as the Ministry for Haj and Religious Affairs.

On December 8, 2004 Shinwari administered the oath of office to Hamid Karzai when he was elected President of Afghanistan.[7]

Shinwari addressed the 17 Afghan who had been held in Guantanamo whose Combatant Status Review Tribunals determined they had never been "enemy combatants" after all.[2][3] Their Tribunals had been held between August 2, 2004 and late January 2005. Carlotta Gall of the New York Times reported that the Chief Justice encouraged the men to regard their detention as something sent from God. The reports stated that the Chief Justice warned the cleared men that a candid description of their detention could damage the chances of other Afghan captives to be released.

"Don't tell these people the stories of your time in prison because the government is trying to secure the release of others, and it may harm the release of your friends."

Shinwari is also reported to have distinguished between three categories of Guantanamo captives.:[2][3]

"There are three kinds of prisoners in Guantanamo. There are those that have committed crimes and should be there, then there are people who were falsely denounced, and third there are those who are there because of the mistakes of the Americans."

In 2006, President Karzai renominated Shinwari to the position of Chief Justice, despite constitutional concerns regarding his degree in Islamic law.[5] However, the parliament rejected the nomination. Shinwari served as Chief Justice until a new candidate, Abdul Salam Azimi, was approved by parliament.

By Western standards, he was widely considered to be a very conservative Islamist, and in his short term as chief justice some of the court's rulings included:

  • the court, during the 2004 presidential election campaign, sought to ban a candidate who questioned whether polygamy was in keeping with the spirit of Islam;
  • they have called for an end to cable television service in the country, at least pending government regulation, due in part to the apparent influence of films from Bollywood, which were allegedly prurient [1];
  • the court upheld the death penalty for two journalists convicted of blasphemy for saying the Islam being practised in the country was reactionary;
  • they banned women from singing on television [2];[8] and
  • they ruled that a girl, given as a bride when 9 years old and now 13, could not get a divorce from her abusive husband.[9]

According to the International Crisis Group Shinwari appointed 128 judges, in addition to the original nine, and that of the credentials of 36 judges they were able to examine, none of the new judges had a degree in secular law:[5]

"Shinwari’s actions, together with the re-emergence of a ministry to promote Islamic virtue, have added to fears that the judicial system has been taken over by hard-liners before the Afghan people have had a chance to express their will in a democratic process."

Saudi peace talks[edit]

During Ramadan, 2008, there were rumors that Saudi King Abdullah was attempting to broker peace talks between the warring parties from Afghanistan.[10] Former Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil former Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salem Zaeef and Shinwari were among leading Afghan figures who met with King Abdullah.

Zaeef acknowledged being invited by King Abdullah to dine with other leading Afghan figures, from the Karzai government, the Taliban, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami and other former members of the Taliban.[10] Zaeef denied this meeting should be characterized as "peace talks". He stated that none of the individuals at this meeting had been authorized to conduct negotiations. Zaeef denied anyone discussed Afghanistan at this meeting.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Former chief justice dies due to brain hemorrhage
  2. ^ a b c "17 Afghans, Turk home from Guantanamo Bay". China Daily. April 20, 2005. Retrieved 2008-04-18. "Pentagon spokesman Maj. Michael Shavers said the 17 Afghans and the Turkish man had been cleared of accusations they were enemy combatants during the Combatant Status Review Tribunal process that recently ended. Five others cleared in late March already had been sent home and another 15 await transfers home."  mirror
  3. ^ a b c Carlotta Gall (April 20, 2005). "17 Afghans Freed From Guantánamo Prison". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-18. "In a brief ceremony, Chief Justice Fazil Hadi Shinwari told the 17 men that they were free to return home and he tried to reconcile them to the idea their imprisonment was something sent from God. Some prisoners in Guantánamo were guilty and deserved to be imprisoned, he said, but others were innocent victims of false accusations or military mistakes, or were duped into supporting terrorism."  mirror
  4. ^ a b c Claudio Franco (2004-12-07). "Despite Karzai election, Afghan conservatives soldier on". Eurasianet. Retrieved 2008-08-04. "A ban on cable TV, reinstated on November 12, illustrates the stakes involved. The original ban, first imposed by the Supreme Court in January 2003, was revoked in April 2003 after a government commission investigated claims of obscenity filed in Kabul and the eastern city of Jalalabad, the hometown of Chief Justice Fazl Hadi Shinwari. Although execution of the ban was eventually eased, restrictions on most western and Indian television shows remain firmly in place."  mirror
  5. ^ a b c "Division between Islamists, Moderates hamper effort on new constitution". Eurasianet. 2003-02-01. Retrieved 2008-08-04. "The ICG [International Crisis Group] says rebuilding the justice system needs to be raised higher on Afghanistan’s political agenda. It also is recommending the retirement of the current Afghan Supreme Court chief, Mawlavi Fazl Hadi Shinwari, on grounds that he does not meet the legal requirements on age and education." 
  6. ^ Oliver, Charles (May 2003). "Fazl Hadi Shinwari, Afghanistan's new chief justice, has banned cable television - Brickbats - Brief Article". Reason magazine. Retrieved 2008-08-04. "I want education for women," he said, "but we want men and women not to sit together."  mirror
  7. ^ "Hamid Karzai is inaugurated as Afghan president". Taipei Times. 2004-12-08. Retrieved 2008-08-04. "After the Afghan national anthem reverberated around a restored hall of the war-damaged former royal palace, Karzai repeated the oath of allegiance read to him by Afghanistan's white-bearded chief justice, Fazl Hadi Shinwari."  mirror
  8. ^ "Afghan Supreme Court Upholds Media Ban on Women". 
  9. ^ Sudarsan Raghavan (2004-11-14). "Afghan girl, given as bride at 9, fights for divorce". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 2008-10-28.  mirror
  10. ^ a b "Taliban and Afghan officials break bread". The Age. 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2008-10-06.  mirror

External links[edit]