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2.10. Individuals considered to have committed blasphemy and/or apostasy

Last update: April 2022

This profile covers persons who are considered to have abandoned or renounced the religious belief or principles of Islam (apostasy), as well as persons considered to have spoken sacrilegiously about God or sacred things (blasphemy). It includes individuals who have converted to a new faith, based on their genuine inner belief (e.g. converts to Christianity), as well as those who disbelieve or lack belief in the existence of God (atheists). It can be noted that, often, the latter grounds would be invoked sur place (Article 5 QD).

COI summary

Blasphemy and apostasy are included in Hudud crimes, which are the most serious crimes under Islamic law and are considered as transgressions against God. Hudud punishments are specifically mentioned in the Quran and the Sunna. According to Islamic law apostasy is punishable by death, imprisonment or confiscation of property and blasphemy is punishable by death. Conversion from Islam to another faith is also considered as a serious offence under Islamic law. Individuals who have committed blasphemy or converted from Islam have three days to withdraw their behaviours or face punishment. Children of ‘apostates’ are still considered Muslims unless they reach adulthood without returning to Islam, in which case they may also be put to death [Society-based targeting, 1.2].

The implementation of Sharia law differed in areas controlled by the Taliban during their time as an insurgency. There were also reports indicating a tendency to implement gradually stricter policies as they gained influence in an area. During the first press conference after the takeover of Kabul, Taliban spokesmen stated that the Taliban had changed since their last time in power, but emphasised that nothing should be against Islamic values [Country Focus 2022, 1.4]. The coming Taliban justice system is believed to be a continuation of the established shadow courts during their insurgency– which already based its judgements on Islamic law [Country Focus 2022, 1.5].

The Taliban see those individuals who preach against them or contravene their interpretations of Islam as ‘apostates’ [Society-based targeting, 2.7; Anti-government elements, 2; Country Focus 2022, 1.4].

There is low societal tolerance in Afghanistan for criticism of Islam. The latter is seen contrary to the religion and can be prosecuted as blasphemy. Individuals who hold views that can be perceived as having fallen away from Islam, such as converts, atheists and secularists, cannot express their views or relationship to Islam openly, at the risk of sanctions or violence, including by their family. Such individuals must also appear outwardly Muslim and fulfil the behavioural religious and cultural expectations of their local environment, without this being a reflection of their inner conviction [Society-based targeting, 2.3, 2.4].

According to the ISKP, Muslim allies of the West, but also those individuals who practice forms of ‘impure’ Islam, which includes non-Sunnis and Sunnis who practice Sufism or mystical schools of Islam, can be defined as ‘apostates’ [Society-based targeting, 2.8; Anti-government elements, 3].

There has been an increasing number of Afghan converts to Christianity, but there had only been a few converts visible in the past decade in Afghanistan [Society-based targeting, 2.3].

Baha’i practitioners and converts to the faith have also been viewed as ‘infidels’ or ‘apostates’ [Society-based targeting, 2.5].

Risk analysis

The acts to which individuals under this profile could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. death penalty, killing, violent attacks).

When considering such applications, the case officer should take into account that it cannot reasonably be expected that an applicant will abstain from his or her religious practices.[12] It should be noted that the concept of religion shall in particular include the holding of theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs (Article 10(1)(b) QD).

In the case of those considered apostates or blasphemers, in general, well-founded fear of persecution would be substantiated.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that persecution of this profile is highly likely to be for reasons of religion.


[12] CJEU, Y and Z, para 80.