Britain grants landmark asylum to Afghan atheist

Britain grants landmark asylum to Afghan atheist

Every aspect of daily life in Afghanistan is permeated by Islam, so living discreetly would be virtually impossible, the spokeswoman said
AFP/Getty Images
  • Every aspect of daily life in Afghanistan is permeated by Islam, so living discreetly would be virtually impossible, the spokeswoman saidAFP/Getty Images
Published at 12:01AM, January 14 2014

An Afghan citizen has secured UK asylum for religious reasons despite being an atheist.

The case, believed to be the first of its kind, was submitted to the Home Office under the 1951 Refugee Convention on the basis that if he returned to Afghanistan he would face persecution because of his lack of religious belief.

Free legal support was provided by Kent Law Clinic, a pro bono service provided by students, supervised by lawyers from the University of Kent’s Law School, with help from local solicitors and barristers.

The man fled to the UK from a conflict involving his family in Afghanistan and was allowed to stay in Britain until 2013, a university spokeswoman said. He was brought up as a Muslim but after arriving in the UK, aged 16, in 2007, he turned to atheism, she said.

The case involved the Law Clinic lodging a submission with the Home Office, and including evidence that the man’s return to Afghanistan could result in a death sentence under Sharia as an “apostate” — someone who has abandoned religious faith — unless he remained discreet about his atheist beliefs.

Evidence showed that because every aspect of daily life and culture in Afghanistan is permeated by Islam, living discreetly would be virtually impossible, the spokeswoman said.

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