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Jeroen Temperman

Article 20(2) of the un’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (iccpr) is an odd human rights clause. It provides that “[a]ny advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.” Accordingly, this provision does not appear to codify a fundamental right but rather a sui generis state obligation. The present article aims at providing a legal taxonomy of this international incitement clause, ultimately also answering the question as to whether, despite its unique formulation as speech prohibition, it contains a justiciable right to protection from incitement.

Arif A. Jamal and Jaclyn L. Neo

This essay introduces the Special Issue of the Journal. It discusses how changing religious demographics and heightened religious plurality are challenging existing thinking about, and patterns of, state-religion relations and the nature of the ‘secular state’. The essay briefly surveys each of the papers in the Special Issue and highlights that one of the key lessons that emerges from the papers is the importance of context. As the contexts evolve, fresh thinking and new arrangements would be needed.

Maurits S. Berger

The main challenge of understanding Sharia in the West is its undefined nature. This contradicts the ease with which the term is used in public and political discourse, but also in the legal domain, which prides itself on its precision in terminology. This article addresses the question: What is the Sharia that Muslims in the West practice? To this end, a model is presented that provides tools to describe the complex interaction between Sharia, as practiced by Western Muslims, and their Western environment, and elucidates the ongoing dialectic of this interaction. The model further shows how Western Muslims adopt and adapt Sharia by manoeuvring between their specific needs in the Western context and the conditions set by that context. From a Western perspective, the model shows that issues of Sharia are usually discussed in legal terms, while most controversies are not legal but cultural in nature.

Reexamining Secularism

The Ayodhya Dispute and the Equal Treatment of Religions

Geetanjali Srikantan

It is widely recognized that the secular Indian state unlike its Western counterpart does not follow the strict separation of religion and state, opting to intervene in the domain of religion by treating religions equally. This article examines how the concept of equal treatment of religions is applied in the legal domain by an intellectual history of the Ayodhya litigation and argues that the courts cannot treat religions equally due to the incompatible nature of the claims made by the parties i.e. the history of religion claim of the Hindus vis-a-vis the property rights claim of the Muslims. Departing significantly from the current consensus about the litigation being characterized by defective legal interpretation and political influences, it further argues that the real legal challenge in resolving this dispute is addressing the theological frameworks within modern property law which are dependent on a set of normative inferences embedded in colonial discourse.