Kabul residents gather for lashing, chopping and hash burning
Fri 07 Aug 98 - 13:13 GMT
KABUL, Aug 7 (AFP) - Thousands of residents of the Afghan capital gathered in the national stadium Friday to watch the burning of cannabis, the flogging of a liquor drinker and a thief have his hand cut off.
Following a series of lengthy religious sermons by hardline Moslem Taliban officials, the fun-starved spectators watched with interest as three kilograms (seven pounds) of seized cannabis was set alight, creating a large scorch mark in the middle of the football pitch.
Next up was a local man found drinking alcohol, who was dealt 80 light and symbolic lashes with a leather strap.
Last came Ghulam Ghaus, found guilty of robbing a house in Kabul and dubbed a "persistent thief" by the Taliban official speaking into the stadium's public address system.
Three public health surgeons gave Ghaus an anaesthetic, then proceeded to amputate his hand while militia fighters beat back a pitch invasion by spectators trying to get a closer look.
The Taliban hold two-thirds of civil war-ravaged Afghanistan and have imposed what they say is the purest Islamic regime in the world.
Enforcing a strict interpretation of Shariat (Islamic law), thieves are punished by amputation of hands and sometimes also feet, adulterers are stoned to death, homosexuals are crushed to death under toppled mud walls and murderers are either shot, stabbed or hung.
Usually held in sports stadiums, the punishments draw huge crowds of fun-starved Afghans, who are banned from watching television or listening to music.