Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Clear Guidance From The Afghan Constitution

An NRO editorial lays out just how tough a job Afghanis will have using their new constitution to determine what to do with Abdul Rahman, the Christian convert facing death:
The Afghan constitution is a work of studied ambiguity when it comes to religious liberty. Article 2 says Islam is Afghanistan's religion, but it also stipulates that other religions are free to perform their ceremonies “within the limits of the law” (whatever that means). Article 7 says the state shall abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — which includes the right of conversion — but Article 130 says, where there is no guidance for the constitution or other laws, Islamic laws apply.
NRO draws the obvious conclusion: "This is the kind of 'living constitution' Ruth Bader Ginsburg can only dream about in the U.S."

It makes me wonder how effective this finely crafted document will be at guiding the Afghans in other tricky areas of governance and international relations. Take Kartoonistan. Does the document help?

Article 32 says freedom to speak one's mind, even on matters like religion and politics, is permitted "so long as whoever's in power thinks it's OK." But Article 273 says, "Woe unto Danish cartoonists who shame Mohammed, may his sword be eternally bloody; their drawing hands shall be severed or they shall be forced to watch old bin Laden videos." But the Article says later in subsection 22(e), "The people shall decide what's funny and be free to laugh ... as long as it doesn't offend the Prophet, may he be feared by the faithful and the infidels alike."

That brings clarity, doesn't it? Next, the Koran. As you recall, there were riots in Afghanistan after the false Koran-flushing story. Too bad, because the Constitution provides guidance here as well:

In the Preamble, it says, "Our law is Mohammed's law, as laid out in the Holy Koran (or Q'ran or Qorhan or whatever), unless of course the Americans with their bags of 'reconstruction' money are watching, and then our law is uncannily like theirs." And, providing even more clarity, in Article 188, subsection 491 (z), it says, "The Koran shall not be flushed, unless it is to be flushed in a fictional way and duly reported as truth by Newsweek."

Let's face it. Afghanistan isn't the U.S. It's a global backwater awash with particularly nasty Islamists and a democracy that's still in diapers. Saving Rahman will take diplomatic pressure and baksheesh; we can't count on good decision-making quite yet.

hat-tip: memeorandum
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