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1 21st October 21:33
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Default Afghanistan votes on a Constitution

Afghan Envoy Defends New Constitution on Rights - 08 Jan 04
[Kabul's ambassador to France Zalmai] Haquani said the constitution,
whose text was not yet available in Western languages, clearly stated
that men and women were equal under Afghan law and that Kabul would
respect all the international rights conventions it has signed. He
said non-Muslims were free to practice their religion within the law,
without saying which legal provisions would apply. Islamic law usually
bans conversion, a point that U.S. evangelical churches have regularly

Haquani rejected [U.S. ambassador-at-large-for-international-religious
-freedom] Hanford's questioning of the use of Hanafi sharia law
whenever no civil law existed. The text does not use the word "sharia"
but its reference to the Hanafi school of sharia legal scholarship
makes clear it will be used. "Hanafi is the most liberal jurisprudence
in Islam," he said. "It allows a very wide range of interpretation
according to where the law is applied." Haquani suggested critics
placed too much emphasis on legal guarantees, which could be flouted
by a strongman in a country as underdeveloped as Afghanistan, and
placed too much blame on Islam for shortcomings in Afghan society.
"In Afghan history, many of the setbacks for human rights did not come
from the application of Islam," he said. "They came from traditions,
from cultural problems, from tribal problems.


The Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan Constitutional
Commission still has no English text
of the adopted constitution.
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