National Laws on Blasphemy: Afghanistan

In dealing with issues relating to blasphemy, Afghanistan—where Islam is the state religion—generally recognizes sharia as the authority in punishing offenses against Islam, the penalty for which can be as high as death. In March 2004, the Afghan government passed a media law prohibiting writings deemed anti-Islamic, enabling the detention of journalists and others with the approval of a 17-member commission comprised of government officials and journalists. In practice, however, any publication, speech, or demonstration that causes a public outcry is likely to be met with governmental or police punishment regardless of whether or not it is explicitly forbidden by the law. Acts for which individuals have been charged with blasphemy range from condemning the treatment of women in Islamic societies, to condemning crimes committed by individuals who claimed to be acting in the name of Islam, to publishing an unofficial translation of the Qur’an. Additionally, as stipulated by the Afghan Supreme Court, belonging to the Baha’í faith is an act of blasphemy.