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Back to Paper Details
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Religious Freedom. A European Contribution to an American Debate

International Relations
Islam
Religion
USA
Constructivism
Freedom
Mariano Barbato
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Mariano Barbato
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
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Abstract

Religious freedom is a contested term between individual and collective rights. While some see religious freedom as proper remedy for religious strife others criticize it as a neo-imperial tool to promote Western values and interests – secular liberalism and Christian mission alike. The arguments for religious freedom come indeed not only from secular liberals but also from Christian pressure groups and minority rights activists. The postcolonial critique of the concept of religious freedom comes from two diametrically opposed camps: one fraction defends religious collectivism and would prefer blasphemy laws to regulate religious strife. The others side is critical of any regulation of faith because it sees religious freedom of communities as a threat to spiritual freedom of individuals. The paper discusses how religious freedom can be conceptualized in the context of human rights to take the postcolonial critique seriously and secure a middle ground between collective and individualist approaches.