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Muslim Legal Traditions of Apostasy and Relevant Human Rights Law

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Chapter Summary

According to the Koranic principle of 'free choice' every human being is free to choose his or her religion or belief based upon his or her own will. It should be noted that the prohibition of conversion is not merely an issue of Muslim legal traditions. In contrast to the Muslim legal traditions of apostasy, freedom to change one's religion is explicitly recognized in Article 18 of the UDHR, Article 9(1) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, (the ECHR) and Article 12(1) of the American Convention on Human Rights. Neither proselytism nor propagation of a new religion has been an explicit subject of international instruments of human rights. In connection with the phenomena of sabb and heresy in Muslim legal traditions of apostasy, this chapter discusses the legitimacy of limitations on freedom of expression.

Keywords: American Convention on Human Rights; apostasy; ECHR; human rights; Muslim legal traditions; proselytism; sabb; UDHR



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