Depiction of Prophet Muhammad and the Right to Freedom of Expression
Dr. Mahmoud Hegazy Bassal (Faculty of Law, Helwan University, Cairo, Egypt)
The right to freedom of expression as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR), which is subject to limitations to be determined by law, as stated in Article 29 of the UDHR and Article 19 of ICCPR. In practice questions were raised concerning the right to freedom of expression, namely: Does the depiction of Prophet Muhammad, in the west, constitute an abuse of the right to freedom of expression, in international Human Rights Law and Islamic Law “Sharia”? And if so, did the concerned states fulfill their international obligations with this regard? On the other side, was Muslims’ reaction Consistent with the provisions of Islamic law and international law? The answer of the above mentioned questions will be the subject matter of a paper that will try to shed light on the depiction of Prophet Muhammad in the west in accordance to International Human Rights Law and Sharia Law.
Human Rights, the Arab Revolutions and the Problem of Cultural Incommensurability
Dr. Stefan Borg (Swedish Institute for International Affairs, Sweden)
A fair amount of the official statements from governments, media coverage, as well as policy analysis undertaken by think-tanks in the West, have tended to perceive the Arab Revolutions as manifestations of long repressed desires for human rights and individual dignity. The – rather unproblematic- remedy for those localities then become Western-style liberal democracies and free market economies. Various critical observers have been skeptical of such interpretive dispositions, and tended to view them as appropriations of a Liberal Reason which respects no epistemic or ethical boundaries. The paper seeks to clarify what is at stake in those starkly different positions. No doubt, when observers interpret the Arab Revolutions in a vocabulary of human rights, democracy, and secularism derived from the Western experience of secular modernity, this may obscure the ontotheological roots of such notions themselves. It is far from clear that the language of human rights is easily translatable to cultural settings rooted in Islamic cosmologies. However, rather than lapsing into a facile relativism, what I would like to do in this paper, is to explore the possibilities of inter-cultural communication that is attentive to the inherent power/knowledge nexus, but at the same time seeks communicative openings, and even commonalities in how contested signifiers such as human rights are understood.
Muslims and Foreign Policy in France and Great-Britain
Dr. Imène Ajala (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland)
A broad range of literature in the United States is dedicated to ethnic lobbying and foreign policy. In Europe, though the range of literature dedicated to Muslims is broad, it has never been looked at from this angle. The basic question guiding this paper, based on my doctoral dissertation, is thus: how have the presence and mobilization of Muslims in Europe affected foreign-policy making? To this end, two countries standing for two opposite models of integration, namely assimilation and multiculturalism, constitute the case studies and allow for a comparative study: France and Great Britain. A conceptual model based on basic game theoretical assumptions and instruments of measure of political influence is used as a grid to systematically analyze the case studies. A set of elements to be investigated empirically are derived from the model to guide the exploration of the case studies which constitute the focus of this paper. Empirical investigations look at the presence of Muslims in each country and their characteristics, the model of integration, the resources of the group in terms of electoral impact and institutional organization. Four elements are then emphasized to understand Muslim communities and their relation to foreign policy debates in both countries: their preferences, their influence attempts, their access to the decisions sphere and the reactions of decision-makers.