USCIRF: Afghans Need More Religious Freedom

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom said Afghanistan has improved, but it still suffers from poor religious freedom:

Afghans still can’t debate religion or question prevailing Islamic orthodoxies without fear of being punished, a U.S. commission said in a new report on Tuesday…

The environment for exercising religious freedom remains “exceedingly poor” for dissenting members of Afghanistan’s Sunni Muslim majority and for minorities, such as Shiite Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its report.

“Individuals who dissent from the prevailing orthodoxy regarding Islamic beliefs and practices are subject to legal actions that violate international standards,” according to the commission…

The Afghan government disagreed, saying their constitution was “clear” on religious freedom (though some would take issue with that characterization).

USCIRF…notes that another part of the [2004 Afghan constitution] says these fundamental rights can be superseded by ordinary legislation. This shortcoming is compounded by “a vague, repugnancy clause” that says no law can be contrary to Islam and allows courts to enforce it, the commission says.

In addition, the penal code discriminates against minorities by allowing courts to defer to Shariah, or Islamic law, in cases involving matters such as apostasy and conversion that are not explicitly addressed by the penal code or the constitution, resulting in those charges being punishable by death, the report says.

That’s a country run by a government the US military is currently defending, and a place more often (officially) noted for its women’s rights issues than its religious liberty issues.