Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Abdul Rahman and the Afghan Constitution

For considering the legal issues raised by the Abdul Rahman apostacy trial, I have scanned through the Afghan constitution and found the following items:

A. In its preamble, the constitution refers to "observing the United Nations Charter and respecting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ..."

In the body of the constitution, the following is found:

Article Two
Ch. 1, Art. 2
The religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam.

Followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law.

Article Three
Ch. 1, Art. 3
In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred
religion of Islam.

Article Seven
Ch. 1, Art. 7
The state shall abide by the UN charter, international treaties, international
conventions that Afghanistan has signed, and the Universal Declaration of Human


A quick review would suggest that there are serious internal inconsistencies in the Afghan constitution. Article 2(2) guarantees freedom of religion for non-Muslims, but that would seem to be revoked by Article 3, as Islam considers apostacy a crime that can be punishable by death.

But then Article 7 would seem to conflict directly with Articles 2 and 3, as it stipulates abiding by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18 of which states quite bluntly:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

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