Mahmood, Saba. (2012). “Religious Freedom, the Minority Question, and Geopolitics in the Middle East”

Mahmood, Saba. (2012). Religious Freedom, the Minority Question, and Geopolitics in the Middle East” Comparative Studies in Society and History 54(2):418-446.

First Paragraph

The right to religious freedom is widely regarded as a crowning achievement of secular-liberal democracies, one that guarantees the peaceful coexistence of religiously diverse populations. Enshrined in national constitutions and international laws and treaties, the right to religious liberty promises to ensure two stable goods: (1) the ability to choose one’s religion freely without coercion by the state, church, or other institutions; and (2) the creation of a polity in which one’s economic, civil, legal, or political status is unaffected by one’s religious beliefs. While all members of a polity are supposed to be protected by this right, modern wisdom has it that religious minorities are its greatest beneficiaries and their ability to practice their traditions without fear of discrimination is a critical marker of a tolerant and civilized polity. The right to religious freedom marks an important distinction between liberal secularism and the kind practiced in authoritarian states (such as China, Syria, or the former Soviet Union): while the latter abide by the separation of religion and state (a central principle of political secularism), they also regularly abrogate religious freedoms of their minority and majority populations. Despite claims to religious neutrality, liberal secular states frequently regulate religious affairs but they do so in accord with a strong concern for protecting the individual’s right to practice his or her religion freely, without coercion or state intervention.

Hackett, “Regulating Religious Freedom in Africa”

Hackett, Rosalind (2011) “Regulating Religious Freedom in Africa” Emory International Law Journal 25(2):853-879

Excerpt: “In this Essay, using a wide-ranging set of examples, I wish to provide some background on the emergent discussion on limitations on religious freedom in Africa, especially how these relate to the current debates on family law that are the subject of this Symposium. My general objectives are (1) to consider the legitimate and illegitimate ways in which African state and non-state actors seek to regulate religious practice; (2) to examine how particular religious groups may be disproportionately affected by these measures; (3) to demonstrate how interference with manifestations of religion often leads to abuses of related rights and freedoms (e.g. women’s and ethnic minorities’ rights, and rights of political participation, expression, and association); (4) to broaden and update the concept of religious practice; and (5) to consider how the African examples of restrictions on and regulation of religious practice challenge Western assumptions about the nature of religion as an essentially private and internal affair. Using two East African examples, I then provide more specific discussion of how attempts to introduce domestic relations bills and Sharia law reflect these changing entanglements of religion and state in neoliberal Africa. Part I provides some background on pertinent religious and legal developments in Africa. Part II examines the dialectics of regulation and recognition of religious freedom in select contexts. Part III discusses other types of restriction, such as land ownership, harassment, granting permits, and media use and access. Part IV focuses on the plight of traditional or indigenous African religions in relation to religious freedom. Part V links the manipulation of religious freedom issues to public and policy debates regarding customary law in Uganda and Kenya.”