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Religious Rights for Minorities in a Policy of Recognition

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Religion plays an important role in today's multicultural society, especially when it comes to religious rights for minorities. Granting these rights stems from an endeavour to transcend a politics of tolerance, even a politics of respect, and to treat them in terms of a politics of recognition. Assigning these rights implies that some principles need to be critically reflected upon: the individualistic interpretation of minority rights, the separationist interpretation of the separation between church and state, the secularist interpretation of religious freedom, and the uniformistic interpretation of the state's legal unity. In granting minorities religious rights, one comes across the importance of their personal law, including marriage law and family law. To incorporate such personal law into the legal systems of Western society, one could apply the distinction between the domains of status demarcation, that refers to entering and belonging to a community, and property distribution, that relates to the rights and duties implicit in these social bonds. The former may be provided for by religious law, the later, by secular law. However, the question is whether marriage under religious law, and rights and duties under secular law can solve the problems women suffer from, especially in the case of polygyny.

Affiliations: 1: Chair Comparative Empirical Science of Religion, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands


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