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Afghans need greater religious freedom: US

Afghans need greater religious freedom: US

Apr 30, 2013 - 14:32

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): The environmentinfo-icon for exercising religious freedom remains exceedingly poor in Afghanistaninfo-icon for minorities including Shiites, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, a US panel said on Tuesday.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its annual report for 2013 that despite significant improvements since the Talibaninfo-icon’s ouster in 2001, religious freedom remained poor, especially for minorities.

Afghans still feared debating religion or questioning orthodoxies, the Associated Press quoted the commission as saying in its new report. The US government and its international allies were urged to work harder to promote religious rights in the country.

"Individuals who dissent from the prevailing orthodoxy regarding Islamic beliefs and practices are subject to legal actions that violate international standards," said the commission.

The penal code discriminates against minorities by allowing courts to defer to Shariahinfo-icon in cases involving matters such as apostasy and conversion that are not explicitly addressed by the code or the constitution, the report added.

According to the report, the few Afghan Christians, converts from Islam or their children, have long been forced to conceal their faith and cannot worship openly.

"The situation for Christians worsened in 2010, when authorities arrested 26 Christians. After their release, many fled to India, where they have applied for refugee status due to a fear of religious persecution."

PAN Monitor/mud


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