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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The dilemma of religious freedom: A comparative analysis of religious liberty in Western and Islamic human rights instruments
by Kalanges, Kristine J., Ph.D., Georgetown University, 2008, 253; 3339912
Abstract (Summary)

In 1981, at the U.N. General Assembly's 36th session, Iran's representative declared that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights represented a secular interpretation of Judeo-Christian tradition that could not be implemented by Muslim states. This dissertation explores that claim, proceeding as a comparative analysis of religious freedom in human rights instruments from the Western and Islamic worlds.

The first part charts the evolution of religious liberty as a human right in the West, noting especially the significance of Reformation theology, early American constitutionalism, the development of modern human rights law, and the integration of religious freedom with human dignity in the teachings and diplomacy of the Catholic Church. The second part probes the emergence of Islamic international law as an alternate/oppositional paradigm of human rights. It discusses religious freedom in Islamic law and thought from the classical to the modern periods, the resurgence of Islamic law and politics and the cultivation of national and transnational Islamic identity in reaction to the secularism of Western imperial power, religious liberty laws and practices in four Muslim states, and contemporary Islamic international law.

Throughout, this dissertation emphasizes the relationship between comparative religious context, on the one hand, and the specific content of religious liberty in human rights provisions, on the other. Further, it analyzes the legal and political processes by which this relationship comes to be institutionalized. As a descriptive project, it examines the "dilemma of religious freedom" – the difficult choice between religious liberty as a universal human right and peaceful co-existence of diverse legal-political cultures. As a normative endeavor, it seeks to transform that dilemma by suggesting how the parties to it might contribute to and engage what Harold Berman envisioned as a world legal tradition.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Arend, Anthony Clark
School: Georgetown University
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 69/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: International law
Keywords: Human rights, International law, Islam, Islamic international law, Religious freedom, Religious liberty
Publication Number: 3339912
ISBN: 978-0-549-93960-3
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