We the people of Afghanistan

Afghanistan has been much in the U.S. news over the last few years thanks to America’s military involvement there.

Its constitution is even newer than that of South Africa – it was approved in 2004. It is explicitly Islamic, as the first line of its preamble is careful to note:

With firm faith in God Almighty and relying on His lawful mercy, and Believing in the Sacred religion of Islam, …

A little later, we are told that Islam is the official religion of Afghanistan, although other religions will be tolerated:

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.

Then:

In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.

There is, of course, no separation of church and state:

The state shall adopt necessary measures for promotion of education in all levels, development of religious education, organizing and improving the conditions of mosques, madrasas and religious centers.

The constitution does, nonetheless, include many staples of western constitutions, including freedom of expression (including peaceful demonstration), equality of men and women, a blanket condemnation of torture, and a commitment to free education for all citizens.

As suggested above, state-sponsored education efforts include religious teaching:

The state shall devise and implement a unified educational curriculum based on the provisions of the sacred religion of Islam, national culture, and in accordance with academic principles, and develops the curriculum of religious subjects on the basis of the Islamic sects existing in Afghanistan.

The constitution does not look favorably on alternative lifestyles (emphasis mine):

The state adopts necessary measures to ensure physical and psychological well being of family, especially of child and mother, upbringing of children and the elimination of traditions contrary to the principles of sacred religion of Islam.

There is an apparent contradiction in the role set out for president. Consider the following excerpt from the oath to be made by any new president:

I swear to obey and safeguard the provisions of the sacred religion of Islam

Then, just a little further in the constitution, we are told that

The President cannot act based on linguistic, ethnic, religious, political, and regional considerations during his term in office.

How is the president supposed to obey the provisions of Islam without basing his or her actions on religious considerations?

Next, members of the Supreme court

Shall have a higher education in law or in Islamic jurisprudence, and shall have sufficient expertise and experience in the judicial system of Afghanistan.

All in all, then, Afghanistan has a progressive constitution in many respects, but it is unfortunately wedded to promoting a particular religious view.

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