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Islam and the West

The Limits of Freedom of Religion

Series:

Hana Sadik El-Gallal

Religious Intolerance is on the rise. Debating religious freedom often means debating «West» versus «Islam». This book challenges crucial stereotypes around this issue. It explores the scope of the right to freedom of religion in the International Treaties and Declarations and investigates why this right creates misunderstandings and misconceptions that often lead to intolerance and discrimination in countries of various political, social, and cultural backgrounds.
Islam and the West attempts to find reasons for the rise of religious intolerance. The author looks at the limitation of the religious symbols law in France and the anti-terrorism measures in the USA; she discusses also Religious minorities and Apostasy in Saudia Arabia and Egypt. Furthermore, she calls for extending the scope, asking questions such as: How do societies deal with different religions and beliefs? How could and do they find ways of reconciling their conflicting demands while protecting human worth? How can universal values be found and established?
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3. Conclusion

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The increased importance of religious minorities and the increased religious conflict and violence poses new challenges for the international community. Mainly, religious discrimination generates a failure of recognition of stigmatized persons as citizens, and that the so-called cultural neutrality of the state contributes to their negative symbolic delineation and to their alienation as regards state and society. Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right protected by international law and all states are obligated to respect and protect this right. Freedom of religion or belief is as important to the sanctity and dignity of the human person as it is to the recognition, protection, and maintenance of a free and democratic state. It is predominantly religious minorities who continue to suffer the worst forms of human rights abuses. Today, intolerance of religious diversity has perhaps surpassed racial prejudice as the primary motivation behind human rights violations. The International Instruments are the guidelines to combat these violations.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights notes that “all human beings are born free and equal in human rights” and that each is “endowed with reason and conscience.” It defends the right of every human being to worship and to practice religious faith according to the dictates of conscience. All member states should be committed to eliminate discrimination against people of faith in all fields of civil, political, economic, social and cultural life. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration and Article 18 of the ICCPR are the basic provisions in the international...

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