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Taliban Slaying of Online Comic Sparks Anger, Apprehension

Watchdog group says even mild criticism isn't safe
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2021 4:45 PM CDT
Online Comic's Execution by Taliban Adds to Apprehension
Afghan militiamen join Afghan defense and security forces, who will have to fight the Taliban, gather last month in Kabul.   (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

(Newser) – The Taliban's killing of a Kandahar police officer, better known as a goofy comic who posted his bits on social media, has drawn condemnation across Afghanistan. Nazar Mohammad Khasha, also known as Khasha Zwan, was dragged from his home and shot to death last week, the Washington Post reports. The Taliban admitted the execution after videos were posted this week showing two men slapping him just before he was killed, per the AP. The slaying raised fears about life will be like under the Taliban, as they seize control of territory as the US forces leave. "Taliban forces apparently executed Khasha Zwan because he poked fun at Taliban leaders," a Human Rights Watch official said, adding that the slaying shows the Taliban won't tolerate "even the tamest criticism or objection." An Afghan official called it an attack on "justice, knowledge and art."

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Human Rights Watch said the Taliban is going after critics and opponents despite saying they were reining in their fighters. Large numbers of people tied to police or government are being detained in Kandahar, the group said. "The Taliban leadership usually denies the abuses, but it's their fighters carrying out these attacks and their responsibility to stop the killings," Human Rights Watch said. The Taliban, after first denying involvement in Khasha's death, has said he was guilty of acts of violence against civilians. A spokesman now says the Taliban are investigating the case because Khasha was killed instead of brought back for trial in an Islamic court, the usual procedure. A US diplomat condemned the slaying on Twitter, saying Khasha brought "joy & laughter to his community even in dark times." (The first Afghan refugees land in the US.)

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