religious restrictions

The French Revolution, Not Just the Iranian Revolution is the Problem 

The secular repressive pattern in Islam follows the French Revolution and is a rival to the Iranian Revolution in its low levels of religious freedom. Most practitioners of the secular repressive pattern have been authoritarian rulers: Shah Reza Pahlavi of Iran, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Syria’s Assads. It is often through brutal force, including torture, that they restrict religion—and necessarily so because their populations are far more religious than they are.

Permanent Link:

There Is Religious Freedom in the Muslim World: The West African Seven

From a satellite view, the Muslim world does not look religiously free. The picture seems to favor the view that I have called “Islamoskepticism.” Of 47 Muslim-majority states, 36, or almost three-quarters, have “high” or “very high” levels of religious repression according to the standards of the Pew Research Center.

When we zoom in closer, however, the picture is more diverse and does not so easily favor the Islamoskeptics.

Permanent Link:

Introduction: Intervening in a Public Debate (Excerpt)

My new book, Religious Freedom in Islam: The Fate of a Universal Human Right in the Muslim World Today, assesses the West’s culture war over Islam through the criterion of religious freedom. The problem is that religious freedom itself has been the subject of a public contretemps in recent years.

This controversy is of recent vintage and beset with amnesia.

Permanent Link:

Our Culture War Over Islam

A culture war over Islam has been raging in the West at least as far back as the attacks of September 11th, 2001. It flares up every time terrorist acts or other forms of violence involving Muslims hit the headlines. Much as in the Cold War, this public debate has hawks and doves, which I will call “Islamoskeptics” and “Islamopluralists,” respectively.

Who is right? That is the question that Religious Freedom in Islam seeks to answer. Its criterion is religious freedom. More demanding than tolerance or even democracy, religious freedom requires enduring respect for the religious beliefs and practices of the person or community who differs over the ultimate questions of life, respect for everyone’s full and equal citizenship regardless of his or her religious beliefs, and a rejection of all heavy forms of discrimination.

Permanent Link:

Orthodox Strife in Ukraine: Serious but Not Catastrophic

The religious situation in Ukraine is entering upon a critical stage. The situation is a three-vectored issue that involves Constantinople, Moscow, and Kyiv. The Russian Orthodox Church has always been a tool in the hands of the tsars, the commissars, and the new bare-chested star of the Kremlin. After the fall of the USSR and the ideological vacuum that this created in Russia, the Church was again pulled into an intimate relationship with the Kremlin, especially under Vladimir Putin, to offer a conservative and nationalist vision known as “the Russian world”.

Permanent Link: