Tentacles of the Leviathan? Nationalism, Islamophobia, and the Insufficiency-yet-Indispensability of Human Rights for Religious Freedom in Contemporary Europe

In multiple cases across Europe, a growing list of rulings by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) converges on an apparent consensus: the expanding presence of Islam throughout Europe presents a pronounced challenge to Western conceptions of secular law and human rights. Read the full article »

Read More →

A Conceptual Family: Secularism, Equality and Toleration

Suppose that we, taking our cue from the case of India, reverse accepted understandings that the secularisation of society is an essential pre-requisite for secularism, and assume that the two concepts — one social and the other political — may be independent of each other. The Indian experience of secularism offers valuable lessons on how plurality can be managed and accommodated within a framework of a secularism based on equality and toleration. Read the full article »

Read More →

Towards a New Model of Relationship: A Call for Collective and Individual Self-Reflection

The groundbreaking transformations initiated in some Middle Eastern and North African countries in the aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring, and the processes of reform unfolding in varying degrees and intensity in other member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), raised hopes for new social contracts based on more balanced relationships between states and citizens and between majority and minority communities in terms of ideological, religious or sectarian divides. Read the full article »

Read More →

Addressing Global Restrictions on Religion: The Need for Increased Positive Examples from OIC Member States

Despite the expressed hope of many world leaders that the political uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 would lead to greater freedoms and fewer religious restrictions for the people of the region, research suggests that the region’s already high level of restrictions on religion have continued to increase in recent years. In a commitment to furthering necessary progress, the OIC should take on an even greater role in coordinating the efforts of the member states in order to protect the religious freedoms of future generations. Read the full article »

Read More →

Nahdlatul Ulama: Good Governance and Religious Tolerance in Indonesia

Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, has been poorly understood in the West. While most Western political commentators and policy makers absorb an almost daily dose of news or intelligence regarding Islamist extremist organizations or terrorist groups in the predominantly Muslim countries of the Middle East and Southeast Asia, there is far less information and understanding of Muslim peacemakers, moderate-progressive groups, and organizations that advocate for tolerance and pluralism. Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) is one of the world’s foremost Muslim associations devoted to the spread of the Islamic message of justice, peace, and tolerance. Read the full article »

Read More →

Pakistan: Between Betrayed Dream and Desire to Rebuild

Pakistan’s polity today does not reflect the ideals set by her founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, outlining a pluralistic democracy and religious freedom. But the undying spirit of the Pakistani people and their enduring commitment to true democracy—which braved executions, imprisonments, flogging and torture to oppose and defeat four despotic military regimes in 60 years—demonstrate that a new Pakistan can be built.

Read More →

The Hijab Hurdle in Sports

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) is joining other athletic governing bodies in derailing the aspirations of some Muslim women to excel in sports. This month a referee in Bahrain barred the Iranian national women’s team from competing against the Jordanian women’s team in a bid for a spot at the 2012 Olympics. Also this month USA Weightlifting barred Kulsoom Abdullah of Atlanta, Georgia from the Senior Nationals competition this July in Iowa. In both cases the reason cited was the hijab included in their uniforms.

Read More →

Contending Modernities in France: Muslim Expression vs. Secular Integrity

Series:

Last month, on April 11, 2011, France became the second country in Europe, following Belgium, to ban the wearing of the full Islamic veil or burqa. Under the new law, women who wear face-covering Muslim veils in “public places” in France face a fine of about $200, compulsory “special classes” on citizenship, or both. This direct clash between the religious practice of some Muslims and a law that many French leaders and citizens believe is a logical extension of France’s secularism could not be of more direct interest to Contending Modernities. We therefore asked two of our regular commentators—M. Christian Green and Mahan Mirza—to offer their reflections on France’s burqa ban.

Read More →

Burqas, Blobs, and Bans in “La Belle France”

Series:

A recent search of the term “burqa” on CartoonStock.com turned up a plethora of images of women in black and blue veils. In one image a black-clad woman in a delivery room gives birth to a tiny, similarly garbed miniature, as a nurse proclaims, “It’s a girl!” In another, a woman in a black niqab, with only her eyes exposed, sits in front of a computer featuring the webpage “Hidden Facebook.” Read the full article »

Read More →