Britain Grants Asylum to Atheist Afghan

Man fearing death penalty in Afghanistan is granted safe haven

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Noorullah Shirzada / AFP / Getty Images

Afghan men pray to celebrate Eid al-Fitr and the end of the fasting month of Ramadan in Jalalabad on August 8, 2013.

An atheist from Afghanistan, fearing prosecution for “apostasy” back home, has secured asylum in Britain in a first-of-its-kind case, his lawyers said on Tuesday.

The Guardian reports that the unnamed asylum seeker came to the UK in 2007 at the age of 16. Over the years, he lost his faith in Islam, a crime punishable by death in Afghanistan. His lawyers argued that he could not safely abstain from religious practice in his home country where religion permeates everyday life.

The head of the British Humanist Association hailed the landmark decision. Freedom from religious belief, he told AFP, “is as important as freedom of belief”