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AFGHANISTAN

Human Rights Issues

  Overview
Death penalty
  Torture/Ill-treatment
Arbitrary detention
  Fair trial
Prison conditions
  Demonstrations
Ethnic affiliation
  Religious affiliation Political affiliation
  NGOs and Human Rights Defenders
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  Refugees

11.03.2008 - Source: US Department of State

According to the Supreme Court, Baha’i faith is a form of blasphemy; arrest of a citizen, born a member of Baha’I faith, after his wife exposed his religious beliefs; he was released due to pressure by the international community and fled to another country ("Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2007") [ID 23979]

"According to Islamic law, conversion from Islam is punishable by death. In recent years this sentence was not carried out in practice. On April 9, police arrested a citizen, born a member of the Baha'i faith, after his wife exposed his religious beliefs to authorities. Officials detained him for 31 days in jail without charges, in contravention of the penal code. Authorities released him on May 11 after the international community expressed its concern. Upon his release, he fled to another country. On May 20, the General Directorate of Fatwas and Accounts under the Supreme Court issued a ruling on the status of the Baha'i faith, declaring it a form of blasphemy. The ruling also declared all Muslims who convert to Baha'i to be apostates and all followers of the Baha'i faith to be infidels."

Document(s): Open document

12.2007 - Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Supreme Court declared Baha’i faith as form of blasphemy and followers of it as infidels ("UNHCR's Eligibility Guidelines for Assessing the International Protection Needs of Afghan Asylum-Seekers") [ID 22654]

"In May 2007, the Supreme Court issued a ruling on the status of the Baha’i faith declaring it to be distinct from Islam and a form of blasphemy. The ruling also declared all Muslims who converted to Baha’i to be apostates and all followers of the Baha’i faith to be infidels. Hence, Afghan citizens who convert from Baha’i to Islam will face a risk of persecution similar to that of Christians converts. Furthermore, in a separate incident earlier this year, police arrested an Afghan member of the Baha’i faith after his wife (a Moslem, so the marriage was prohibited) exposed his religious beliefs to the authorities. The man spent 31 days in jail without a charge, but was eventually released, following pressure from the international community, and reportedly fled to another country.

In August 2006, the Afghan Government announced its intention to re-establish, under the supervision of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the Department for the Prevention of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue, infamous under the Taliban, for its violations of women’s and religious minorities’ right.231 Thus far, its establishment has been successfully blocked by progressive members of the Government and civil society."

Document(s): Open document

12.2007 - Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Baha’i faith is considered as a form of blasphemy; Afghans converting to this faith risk persecution; converts are seen as a source of shame by family members and communities ("UNHCR's Eligibility Guidelines for Assessing the International Protection Needs of Afghan Asylum-Seekers") [ID 22938]

"In light of the May 2007 Supreme Court ruling declaring the Baha’i faith distinct from Islam and a form a blasphemy, Afghans converting to the Baha’i faith face a risk of persecution similar to that of Christian converts:

“Conversion from Islam is considered apostasy and is punishable by death under some interpretations of Shari'a. As in the case of blasphemy, an Afghan citizen who has converted from Islam (if a male over age 18 or a female over age 16, who is of sound mind) has three days to recant his or her conversion and is otherwise subject to death by hanging.”

Converts are likely to face serious problems as they are seen by family members and tribes as a source of shame and embarrassment. Converts are very likely to face isolation and strong pressure to reverse their decision and repent. In case of refusal, family members could resort to threats, intimidation, and, in some cases, physical abuse that could be life threatening."

Document(s): Open document

14.09.2007 - Source: US Department of State

Baha’i faith is considered as blasphemy; Islamic scholars issued a fatwa against the Baha’i faith which particularly effects the question of marriage between Muslims and Baha’is ("International Religious Freedom Report 2007") [ID 21542]

"In May 2007 the General Directorate of Fatwas and Accounts under the Supreme Court issued a ruling on the status of the Baha'i faith, declaring it to be distinct from Islam and a form of blasphemy. The ruling also declared all Muslims who convert to Baha'i to be apostates and all followers of the Baha'i faith to be infidels. The text of the ruling reads, "Islamic scholars have issued a fatwa [religious announcement] against the Baha'i faith, declaring it to be separate from the religion of Islam and a form of blasphemy. If any Muslim follows the Baha'i faith, he is considered an apostate. In consideration of the themes written in the books The Baha'i Religion and The Kingdom of Heaven's Message -- the famous books of the Baha'i religion -- the Islamic scholars of the Fatwa Directorate of the Supreme Court have issued a fatwa declaring Bab Mirza Mohammad Ali and Baha'i Mirza Hussein Ali (founders of the Baha'i faith who have claimed to be Mehdi or Imam Zaman of the last days and messengers of God) and their followers to be apostates. This ruling is supported by writings from other Islamic scholars, which have declared Bab Mirza Mohammad Ali and Baha'i Mirza Hussein Ali and their followers to be apostates."

The ruling appears to have resulted from an Ulama Council's investigation into where the Baha'i faith stands vis-à-vis Islam. The Ulama Council that issued the ruling deemed that the Baha'i faith and its followers would be treated similarly to Christians and Jews in the country. While the ruling is unlikely to affect foreign-national Baha'is in Afghanistan, it could potentially create problems for the country's small Afghan Baha'i population, particularly on the question of marriage. Many Afghan Baha'is are married to Afghan Muslims, but the ruling could be used by courts to invalidate marriages between Baha'is and Muslims. This would create a noteworthy distinction between how the courts view the Baha'i faith vis-à-vis Christianity and Judaism, as Jewish and Christian women (but not Baha'i women) can be legally married to Muslim men. (Muslim women can only be married to Muslim men.) Afghan citizens who convert from Islam to the Baha'i faith face a risk of persecution, similar to that of Christian converts. It remains to be seen how the government will treat second-generation Baha'is who technically have not converted, as they were born into families of Baha'i followers, but may still be viewed as having committed blasphemy."

Document(s): Open document

14.09.2007 - Source: US Department of State

Member of the Baha'i faith arrested after his Muslim wife exposed his religious beliefs to authorities; marriage between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man is not legal in Afghanistan ("International Religious Freedom Report 2007") [ID 21654]

"On April 9, 2007, police arrested an Afghan citizen who was born a member of the Baha'i faith, after his religious beliefs were exposed to authorities by his wife. After inquiries from the international community, authorities released the man on May 11, 2007. He had spent 31 days in jail without any charges. According to the Penal Code, authorities can jail a person for only up to 15 days without charges. Should authorities need more time to investigate a case, the courts may grant an extension of up to 15 days more. In this particular case, however, no such extension was requested or granted. Upon his release from jail, the man fled to another country along with other family members, one of whom feared police would try to detain him for his role in helping to seek the man's release from jail. The man's wife, who is Muslim, is seeking a divorce based on grounds that marriage between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man is not legal in Afghanistan."

Document(s): Open document