Afghanistan’s Theocratic Oath of Office

Here at On Faith, we’re engaged in a spirited and compelling debate over whether President-elect Barack Obama should say “so … Continued

Here at On Faith, we’re engaged in a spirited and compelling debate over whether President-elect Barack Obama should say “so help me God” when he finishes taking the Oath of Office, and whether the ceremony should include clergy prayers. Some say yes, others say no. No one has been arrested for expressing an opinion.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, where the presidential oath of office begins “In the name Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” an editor at a small newspaper in Afghanistan was arrested “for publishing an article in which he has rejected revelation. This is an insult to Islam and the rest of the religions,” Afghanistan’s deputy attorney general, Fazel Ahmad Faqiryar, told AFP.

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate freely.

Afghanistan’s 2004 Constitution, a product of the Bush Administration’s regime change there, states that “Every Afghan shall have the right, according to provisions of law, to print and publish on subjects without prior submission to state authorities.” Unfortunately for the Afghan editor and others there, it also says “In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.”

Is it possible to have a constitutional theocracy? Under Islamic law, as stipulated in Afghanistan’s Constitution, blasphemy — merely a form of free thought and speech — is punishable by death. When he took the oath of office, Afghan’s democratically-elected president, Hamid Karzai, swore “to obey and safeguard the provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.” That he has done.

One year ago, a young Afghan journalist was found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death for distributing an internet article that said the Prophet Mohammad had ignored the rights of women. Last October, an Afghan appeals court reduced Sayad Parwez Kambaksh’s sentence to 20 years in prison. Twenty years in prison for exercising the sort of freedom that President Bush has said “is not America’s gift to the world; it is God’s gift to all humanity.”

Neither God nor America and its armed forces have been able to deliver that gift to Afghanistan.

Regardless of whether Obama concludes the Oath of Office with the words “so help me God,” what he’s promising “to preserve, protect and defend” is — among other freedoms — our freedom to accept or reject revelation. That’s not just a gift. It’s a human right.

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  • Paganplace

    My. Gods. World’s gonna be digging Bush’s theological bubblegum out ofits hair along time, and after many unnecessary deaths,won’t we?

  • jamshark70

    “Utter stupidity of Islam”…what would one say about, oh, a Korean some couple of thousand years ago who was born of a virgin, attained a zealous following as a prophet and was killed by the state, thereby saving the souls of all mankind? That might sound pretty silly too.But when we in the US tell that story about a Galilean, it isn’t considered stupid, it’s religion.I don’t mean this as an anti-Christian rant. The point is just that one’s own beliefs are always self-evident while the other guy’s are — naturally — wrong. In the meantime, the other guy thinks the same thing about you.Now add guns to the mix and you have extremist Islamic jihad… and white supremacist hate groups in the US. There’s plenty of guilt to go around.

  • coloradodog

    Theocracy in Afganistan sounds like some horrible Rovian nightmare in the US in 2012 as RNC Fox News’ Pastor Huckabee teams up with Palin, Dobson and Robertson to change the US Constitution to “God’s Standards”

  • jweider007

    Of course most of the Christian Taliban in the US see Nothing wrong with this as long as they are in charge.

  • spidermean2

    This is the BIG FAILURE of Bush administration. They are all stupid for taking out the former government of Afghanistan and replaced it with another stupid government which does not respect FREEDOM of CONSCIENCE.If America cannot enforce this freedom, it’s better that it just mind its own business and not touch on other people’s business.Bush is a failed administration because it doesn’t know what is its ultimate goal.Enforce what is right and obliterate all kinds of stupidity including that stupid afghan law which disrespect FREEDOM of CONSCIENCE.What a waste of American lives. STUPID.

  • Bios

    This is really unbelievable. I can’t fully grasp the fact of someone being murdered for distributing an internet article.Where do these people come from?? It’s probably another case of inbreeding between sects, camels and tents.

  • B2O2

    Afghanistan should serve as a constant reminder of why we do NOT want our own domestic version of the Taliban writing the laws here. Primitive tribal religions like radical Islam and fundamentalist Christianity should be kept where they belong – in anthropological exhibits in natural history museums. They have caused enough pain, death and stymying of progress over the ages.

  • spidermean2

    B2O2, you too is a stupid person. Freedom of Conscience is a PRIMARY baptsit principle and it is this group which fought for the First Ammendment in America.You should educate yourself before talking coz you don’t differ from the ignorance of these islamic extremists.

  • CCNL

    And all due to the “revelations” of one mythical, “pretty, wingie, talking thingie” by the name of Gabriel!!! The utter stupidity of Islam rings out everyday in places like Afghanistan!!!

  • CCNL

    jamshark70 and those eyes that have not seen,Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/ simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a mamzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). Analyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, On Faith panelists) via the NT and related documents have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus’ sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations/ virgin birth made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects. The 30% of the NT that is “authentic Jesus” like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus’ case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hittites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics. For added “pizzazz”, Catholic/Christian theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the “pew people” to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the “filicider”. Current crises:Pedophiliac priests, atonement theology and original sin!!!! Luther, Calvin, Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams et al, founders of Christian-based religions, also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of “pretty wingie thingie” visits and “prophecies” for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immaculate conceptions).Current crises: Adulterous preachers, “propheteering/ profiteering” evangelicals and atonement theology.

  • Paganplace

    ” spidermean2 “B2O2, you too is a stupid person.”Learn some grammar before you claim to speak ‘literal truth,’ Spidey.Pathetic.

  • spidermean2

    Establishment of FREEDOM of CONSCIENCE.If the American soldiers don’t have that mission on their mind, they better just go home. It would just be a waste of money, time and lives.Nothing would be achieved. It would just be like defending another crazy society.

  • Paganplace

    *patpat* Thankfully, Spidey, the likes of you is no longer anything to do with our military deployments, as of tomorrow. Thank the Gods.

  • spidermean2

    Israel is leaving Gaza. So what did it achieve? I thought they would crush Hamas but they left prematurely because of pressures from other idiotic world leaders. They should have instead pressured Syria for giving refuge to Hamas leadership. The Saudis plan to give Hamas 1 billion dollars for reconstruction of Gaza. This is a dumb world. Nothing would make it sane until doomsday.

  • spidermean2

    Surely, a big chunk of that 1 billion would be used for more powerful rockets. The cycle of stupidity continues.

  • Chops2

    Spidermean, this is you in a nutshell:Stupidity, doomsday, idiot, evolution stupid you is idiot (notice the retarded grammar just for realism), bible 100% true, think but dont question the bible cause you will die idiot doomsday is coming.Can u write a post without mentioning the words stupid, idiot, evolution, doomsday or the bible?

  • zbvhs

    Afghanistan is not a theocracy. It is a (nominal) democracy with an official state religion, which is what the First Amendment prohibits in this country. Iran might be a theocracy but it’s hard to tell exactly who’s calling the shots there.

  • Farnaz2

    Political correctness has its place, but this is not one of them. That this journalist should have been arrested for speaking his views is horrific. No less horrific, if not moreso, is that this Christian nation has reduced most of Afghanistan to rubble, leaving it significantly worse off than it was, killing more than one hundred thousand, leaving arms and limbs scattered everywhere. That, this Christian nation has done.Were it to ease up the blood-letting for a bit, maybe things could turn out otherwise. That would also entail the end of supporting terrorist regimes like the “House of Saud” (!), etc., ending exploitation for oil, etc.In the meantime, to all those oil and Christ theocrats as well as to the Politically Correct who think it illiberal to criticize the attrocious arrest of the journalist, take it from one who survived a theocracy. There is NOTHING correct in it, political or otherwise. To assume because people are Muslim, they don’t know this, is most egregiously Incorrect.