Afghan Constitution Declares Islam Official Religion

A proposed constitution for Afghanistan declares that the country is "an Islamic Republic" and that "the religion of Afghan­istan is the sacred religion of Islam."

The draft, released Nov. 3, contains no provision separating mosque and state, according to a report from the Associated Baptist Press (ABP), and religious liberty gets minimal protection. A clause states, "Followers of other religions are free to perform their religious ceremonies within the limits of the provision of law."

The draft says members of the country's highest court must uphold an oath "in the name of God Almighty to support justice and righteousness in accord with the provisions of the sacred religion of Islam and the provisions of this constitution and other laws of Afghanistan."

Preeta Bansal, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, told the ABP that the draft could allow for "a judicial theocracy" in the country.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan hailed production of the constitutional proposal as "an important milestone in Afghanistan's political development." The draft will be debated next month by the country's grand council, called a loya jirga.