Bush Ignored Concerns About Afghan Constitution, Praised It For Protecting “Freedom of Religion”

In Afghanistan, a man named Abdul Rahman has been put on trial for converting to Christianity. For his crime, he could be put to death. The incident, which has caused an international uproar, has its roots in the Afghan constitution.

Shortly after its passage, however, President Bush praised the Afghan constitution as protecting freedom of religion. President Bush, 1/23/04:

We’re making good progress, we really are, in parts of the world. Afghanistan has now got a constitution which talks about freedom of religion and talks about women’s rights.

But President Bush was warned by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom — an independent government entity — that the Afghan constitution failed to protect freedom of religion. In November 2003 press release called “Constitution Threatens to Institutionalize ‘Taliban-lite’” the USCIRF expressed concern that the proposed constitution:


Since the passage of the constitution, several individuals have been persecuted in Afghanistan on account of their religion and the USCIRF have repeatedly urged the administration to act. Today, the USCIRF sent a letter to President Bush reiterating their concerns and their recommendations for action.

Of course, now that the right wing is up in arms, President Bush is pretending this has always been a priority. It’s simply not true.