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January 8, 2001 - Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar announced that "all countrymen are seriously notified that any Muslim Afghan will be sentenced to death if he accepts Christianity and has converted to this nullified religion or is seen inviting people to Christianity and Judaism as well as propagating and distributing their books." Thus, anyone who converts from Islam to another religion or attempts to convert others will be executed.

President Bush on November 2003:

Successful societies guarantee religious liberty -- the right to serve and honor God without fear of persecution. . . These vital principles are being applied in the nations of Afghanistan and Iraq. With the steady leadership of President Karzai, the people of Afghanistan are building a modern and peaceful government. Next month, 500 delegates will convene a national assembly in Kabul to approve a new Afghan constitution. The proposed draft would establish a bicameral parliament, set national elections next year, and recognize Afghanistan's Muslim identity, while protecting the rights of all citizens. . . . (Applause.)

Via balconesfault, today's Afghanistan:

An Afghan man is being prosecuted in a Kabul court and could be sentenced to death on a charge of converting from Islam to Christianity, a crime under this country's Islamic laws, a judge said Sunday. The trial is believed to be the first of its kind in Afghanistan and highlights a struggle between religious conservatives and reformists over what shape Islam should take here four years after the ouster of the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime. During the one-day hearing, the defendant confessed that he converted from Islam to Christianity 16 years ago while working as a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, Mawlavezada said.

"We are not against any particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law," the judge said. "It is an attack on Islam." . . . Afghanistan's constitution is based on Shariah law, which is interpreted by many Muslims to require that any Muslim who rejects Islam be sentenced to death, said Ahmad Fahim Hakim, deputy chairman of the state-sponsored Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

They hate us for our freedoms, unless they are our "allies" in the War on Terror:

A new State Department report on global religious freedom has cited eight countries for particularly severe abuses -- three Islamic states, three ruled by communists, a military regime and a one-party state in Africa.

"These are countries where governments have engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom over the past year," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Washington Tuesday.

"We are committed to seeking improvements in each of these countries." The eight named as "countries of particular concern" (CPCs) are Burma, China, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Vietnam.

Designation of religious freedom violators as CPCs takes place under 1998 legislation which provides for the U.S. government to take punitive steps against them.

. . . The Commission has recommended CPC status for all eight of the countries named Tuesday, as well as three others -- all Muslim states -- Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Freedom . . . on the March!

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 11:01 AM PST.

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