This was quite an interesting paper. First the abstract:
For the last two decades the human rights discourse has been increasingly used across the world - one could argue that there has even been a globalization of human rights. This discourse has also been intrinsically linked to positivism, enlightenment and secularism. It is with this in mind that this article looks at how religious Muslim individuals and groups in France and Turkey have been appropriating the human rights discourse and its national, regional and international legal channels to challenge state secular policies and redefine the relationship between religion and the state. By looking into two specific case studies - the work of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) and the Merve Kavakci case v. Turkey presented at the Strasbourg European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) - I investigate if groups and individuals have found through the use of this 'authorized narrative' a space where they can propose a new plural ethos that can better co-exist with their piety. This is a space where they can offer a more plural and de-centralized vision of secularism. To complement this analysis, I also highlight some of the possible paradoxes found within the human rights discourse - paradoxes that might enlighten us on the challenges of using such a discourse, particularly to ask for the right to display publicly one's religion. In other words, I attempt to shed some light on whether the use of a rights-based discourse by religious rights groups and individuals can help resolve democratically disputes between the religious and the secular - encouraging perhaps the democratization of secularism in specific contexts.
This use of human rights legislation by religious bodies to argue for greater religious freedom is quite an interesting element and in my view, very encouraging indeed. This will indeed keep the lovely secular mullah’s at bay (in many cases far right wankers but also many leftist goons). Many ways, secularism can be quite a danger to individual rights. In any case, remember there is a now a demand to stop people wearing the veil from the perspective of health and safety. Anyway, I digress.
But the idea that human rights conventions and laws are being used by religious protagonists is good, because in the long run, universal human rights, such as propounded by the European Court of Human Rights, will force the religious obscurantists into a more moderate position. In other words, its the sovereignty of the universal declaration of human rights (rather than the silly Islamic declaration of human rights, you cannot call it as universal and Islamic at the same time, you plonkers, but that’s for another post sometime), the human courts and stuff who decide what is important and what is allowable in the country rather than some bloody mullah sitting somewhere pushing women into wearing the veil. I dont understand women wearing veils personally, but its your human right to have green hair or shove yourself in a scarf. I mean, I saw somebody wearing pink socks yesterday. It takes all kinds. heh.
Still, lets see how things go, this long term movement towards having a human rights perspective fills me with a bit of a satisfaction kick