What is your main area of concern today?

The universality of religious freedom. There is a lot of misunderstanding about what this is, but it's the foundation for all human rights.

See how this applies in the Muslim world. Individual religious freedom is crucial for Muslims, because when it's denied—as it is in most countries in the Arab world now—it means the imams or Muslim teachers can determine the extent of individual human rights. Religious freedom is critically important for dissent and political freedom. That's happening now in Afghanistan since there are no individual rights to religious freedom guaranteed there.

Does Afghanistan's constitution contain any protections for human rights and religious freedom?

Journalists in Afghanistan have been arrested and charged with blasphemy for exploring the issue of democracy and Islam. Such charges were brought by the supreme court of Afghanistan. The U.S. government pressured Afghan president Hamid Karzai to intervene, and the journalists were released from jail but had to go into hiding. A female cabinet member who had also questioned Shari'ah law was charged with blasphemy by the supreme court, blocked from taking her post, and received death threats.

The international drafters of the Afghan constitution did not champion religious freedom, and tended to look at it as an American or Western value. But it is crucial to protecting the freedom of Muslims, and it is a universal value.

When I spoke with policy makers at the State Department they said, "What are you worried about? Afghanistan is 99 percent Muslim." The West was very unassertive on important universal human-rights values.

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

June
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
End Extreme Poverty in 2005? Subscriber Access Only
No way. But we can still do something significant.
RecommendedPersecution in the Early Church: Did You Know?
Persecution in the Early Church: Did You Know?
Beginning as a despised, illicit religious sect, Christianity endured 300 years of hostility to emerge as the dominant force in the Roman Empire.
TrendingISIS Kills 29 Christians on Church Bus Trip to Popular Monastery
ISIS Kills 29 Christians on Church Bus Trip to Popular Monastery
(UPDATED) Egypt cancels Ramadan’s opening celebration as Copts resist revenge.
Editor's PickDo This in Remembrance
Do This in Remembrance
Participating in the “high holy day” of American civil religion is beneficial for Christians, so long as we do so thoughtfully.
Christianity Today
Subverting Dignity
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2005

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.