Britain grants asylum to Afghan atheist on grounds of his beliefs

BY Ellen Rolfes  January 16, 2014 at 3:00 PM EDT

An Afghan atheist, who has been living in the United Kingdom since 2007, has been granted asylum in Great Britain this week. This is the first time the British Home Office has granted asylum for an atheist on grounds of his religion, or lack thereof.

“The decision represents an important recognition that a lack of religious belief is in itself a thoughtful and seriously-held philosophical position,” Sheona York told KentOnline. York supervised the Kent Law Clinic students, who filed the case on behalf of the unnamed Afghan man.

Had he returned to Afghanistan, the former Muslim feared persecution, even a possible death sentence under sharia law, if his beliefs were revealed.

Reuters reported the decision one month after a ruling by U.K.’s Supreme Court that recognized Scientology as a religion. In the decision for the case, the judges stated that a religion need not involve a belief in a god.

For more information about sharia law, you can watch the Council on Foreign Relations’ How does sharia law view religious conversion?