January 26, 2004 – The new Constitution of Afghanistan is signed by President Hamid Karzai. It declares the country an Islamic Republic, with Islam as the official state religion. Although the free exercise of other religions is ostensibly guaranteed, the new Constitution states that “no law shall contravene the tenets and provisions” of Islam; further,Â amendments to the Islamic provisions of the Constitution are forbidden. All this despite Afghanistan’s liberationÂ in 2001 from the rabidly Islamic Taliban by the US and its allies, and considerableÂ assistance and oversight from United Nations agencies. Today Afghanistan continues to rank at or near the bottom of various international rankings relating to religious freedom.
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