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Asne Seierstad 'does not understand Afghan values'

30th July 2010

The ruling that Norwegian journalist Asne Seierstad has to pay punitive damages to a woman she wrote about is fair, author and humanitarian aid worker Conor Foley has argued.

Earlier this week, an Oslo district court decided that Seierstad will have to pay more than GBP 26,000 to Suraia Rais for defaming her in bestseller The Bookseller of Kabul.

Writing in the Guardian, The Thin Blue Line author Foley said that Seierstad's revelations of intimate details about the family show she did not understand the values of Afghan society, such as 'namos' - the requirement to protect the virtuousness of female members.

'The idea that you could accept someone's hospitality and then spy on them to violate their namos is completely shocking and makes a mockery of all her other claims of insight into the society in which she was living,' he asserted.

Foley also claimed that Seierstad cannot use the defence of cultural immunity for the book, as it appears to have been written with the intention of providing a 'vicarious kick' to readers.

Per Danielson, the Rais family's lawyer, also told the Guardian that the case will be important to the publishing world, as it shows people in poorer countries can successfully sue those in rich nations who have defamed them.
 

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