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Islam and the West

The Limits of Freedom of Religion


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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Part 2: Limits of Muslims’ Freedom of Religion in the West


Despite international standards that require all member states to protect all people against discrimination (direct and indirect), harassment and victimisation on the basis of religion and belief, the scale and variety of acts of religious intolerance and discrimination are evident in so many countries. The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief in his report (2004) affirms “the rise in religious extremism, intolerance, and discrimination against religious minorities.”1 He also points out the responsibility of the media for fostering a climate of intolerance towards certain communities, especially those of minorities.2 The right to freedom of religion obliges the state to encourage tolerance and respect for others’ religious practices. This, usually, can be promoted in a variety of ways: through education, especially in schools, through television programming which promotes positive images and role models for a tolerant society, and through celebration of the rich diversity of the nation. All of these are positive strategies to reduce the strangeness of the ‘other’, and to promote a sense of mutual belonging despite the diversity of cultures and beliefs. In order to achieve that, legislation prohibiting discrimination in all aspects of the life of a shared community is a primary strategy for enforcing tolerance. This section will concentrate on limits on freedom of religion of Muslim minorities in both France and the United States and the role of these legislations in fostering acceptance of incitement of hatred against Muslims and vilification of Islam in some Western States. ← 97 | 98 → ← 98 | 99 →

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