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Tuesday, November 01, 2005 

A Shining Example of Peaceful Islam?

WASHINGTON -(AP) Mai allegedly was ordered raped in 2002 by a council of elders in Meerwala, her home village in eastern Punjab province, as punishment for her 13-year-old brother's alleged affair with a woman from a higher caste family. Mai and her family deny any affair ever took place and say the brother was in fact sexually assaulted by members of the other family.

In Pakistan, the method of restoring a family's honor by rape is commonplace. Often, the victim kills herself in shame

Not Mai, 36. Her outcry drew international attention and brought the men who attacked her to the national courts of Pakistan.

A trial court in 2002 sentenced six men to death and acquitted eight others in Mai's rape. In March, the High Court in Punjab province acquitted five of the men and reduced the death sentence of the sixth to life in prison.

After an emotional appeal by Mai, the acquittals were overturned in June and the 13 men who had been released were rearrested. They remain in jail while Pakistan's Supreme Court considers the case.

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a strong ally of Washington, acknowledged that he had ordered the travel ban to prevent Mai from casting Pakistan in a bad light.

All this, and they are “a strong ally in the War on Terror”.