For now, Malaysians still lack the imagination of what sort of multi-cultural or multi-religious society Malaysia will be. The absence of such a social vision contributes in large to a rather thin common ground or common culture that could serve to bring the different ethnic, religious and regional groups together. Although efforts have been made to define a narrative that would serve as a common social vision for Malaysia in terms of religious harmony and ethnic integration, details are still somewhat sketchy for an ideal. This state of affairs impinges very much on freedom of religion and belief and its place within the national polity.
Securitization is not simply state prevention of foreign political violence. It is also increasingly aimed at Islamic religious practices like the burqa which are interpreted as signs of political radicalism. One of the unexpected consequences of such a situation has been to grant governments greater means to control religions in general. As such, it is a very serious threat to religious freedom and democracy across Europe.
Theatrics aside, Ahmari missed a critical opportunity to engage in a constructive debate about the niqab and the limits of religious liberty and pluralism in the public square. Instead he turned to seemingly more pressing issues: the bullying and silencing of free and honest debate in Europe by progressive liberals. “Does liberal opinion permit Europeans to discuss the burka openly, honestly, and fearlessly?” he asks. “The answer is almost certainly ‘no,’ judging by the furious reaction that greeted Boris Johnson’s recent remarks,” he answers. The Johnson controversy, Ahmari would have us believe, has little if anything to do with “Islamophobia,” anti-Muslim bigotry, or the right to manifest one’s religious beliefs. It has everything to do with “a prohibition against expressing any discomfort, enforced on pain of social ostracism and joblessness” by “illiberal liberalism.” A prohibition that is “a recipe for populist backlash.”
On June 26, 2017 the Supreme Court decided the important case of Trinity Lutheran v. Missouri, and did so in a fascinating array of opinions that give intriguing hints of how it will decide cases involving religious freedom in the future.
The case is one in a long line in which the Court has struggled to make sense of the First Amendment. The cases form a tangled web that has left many legal observers unable to discern the course the Court intends to chart. It is possible that the majority intends its opinion to make that course significantly clearer with this decision. Lamentably, it failed to achieve its result.
By Daniel Philpott and Timothy Samuel Shah
Far less well understood is how Christians respond when their religious freedom has been severely violated. Under Caesar’s Sword is the world’s first global investigation of these responses and is undertaken on the premise that a systematic understanding of them can help those who live in relative freedom practice stronger and more effective solidarity with persecuted Christians and can help the often-isolated victims of persecution understand better what responses they might undertake.