Emon, “Religious Pluralism in Islamic Law”

In November, Oxford University Press will publish Religious Pluralism in Islamic Law (OUP November 2012) by Anver M. Emon (U. of Toronto’s Faculty of Law). The publisher’s description follows.

The question of tolerance and Islam is not a new one. Polemicists are certain that Islam is not a tolerant religion. As evidence they point to the rules governing the treatment of non-Muslim permanent residents in Muslim lands, namely the dhimmi rules that are at the center of this study. These rules, when read in isolation, are certainly discriminatory in nature. They legitimate discriminatory treatment on grounds of what could be said to be religious faith and religious difference. The dhimmi rules are often invoked as proof-positive of the inherent intolerance of the Islamic faith (and thereby of any believing Muslim) toward the non-Muslim.
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Augustine & Augustine on Religion, Race and the Fourth Estate

Jonathan C. Augustine (United Theological Seminary) and Roslyn Satchel Augustine have posted Religion, Race and the Fourth Estate: Xenophobia in the Media Ten Years after 9/11. The abstract follows.

September 11, 2011 marked the tenth anniversary of the most horrific attacks in the United States. In the decade after the September 11, 2001 attacks (9/11), matters of race and religion maintained an awkwardly prominent role in American culture, with the media arguably fueling perceptions. This interdisciplinary Article’s thesis is that media elites, most of which are large corporations, threaten American democracy with xenophobic influence in an age of unmediated communication. Thus, the frequent imagery of “us” versus “them” has exasperated religious tensions between Judeo-Christian faith groups and religious minorities.

In the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, corporate media entities are now able to control the news and the newsmaker, with free speech that has become very costly. Indeed, empirical studies and research show that media has misused its trusted status as the proverbial “fourth branch of government,” because of capitalism and consumerism. Moreover, in an effort to increase ratings and associated advertising dollars, media has reinforced stereotypes by marketing and essentially selling fear as part of the War on Terror. The authors seek to prove their thesis by emphasizing the historical significance of the First Amendment’s individual protections, examining deregulation and the media’s profit-making interests, and criticizing the Citizens United decision as creating an inherent conflict of interest for media corporations, considering their proven interest in “selling” news for pecuniary gain.

The Interminable SSPX-Vatican Rapprochement

Mark has written about the SSPX (the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X) here and here.  As Mark mentioned, the SSPX is a canonically irregular Catholic group with a traditionalist orientation (in terms of liturgy, discipline, and doctrinal interpretation).  I had hoped to report upon the group’s full re-integration into the Catholic Church this month – which is something that well-founded rumours had predicted.  Alas, the latest indication is that if such a re-integration occurs, it will occur in July at the earliest.  As this is a story that I’ve been following closely for some years now, I thought I’d spend a post laying the situation out and offering a few observations.

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Akçam, The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity

The Armenian Genocide of 1915 had many causes, but one major factor was sectarian hatred, exacerbated by Christians’ assertions of equality under Ottoman law — assertions that contradicted traditional Islamic law.  Clark University historian Taner Akçam has done a new study of the Genocide, The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire (Princeton 2012), which highlights the event’s religious dimensions. The publisher’s description follows.

Introducing new evidence from more than 600 secret Ottoman documents, this book demonstrates in unprecedented detail that the Armenian Genocide and the expulsion of Greeks from the late Ottoman Empire resulted from an official effort to rid the empire of its Christian subjects. Presenting these previously inaccessible documents along with expert context and analysis, Taner Akçam’s most authoritative work to date goes deep inside the bureaucratic machinery of Ottoman Turkey to show how a dying empire embraced genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Although the deportation and killing of Armenians was internationally condemned in 1915 as a “crime against humanity and civilization,” the Ottoman government initiated a policy of denial that is still maintained by the Turkish Republic. The case for Turkey’s “official history” rests on documents from the Ottoman imperial archives, to which access has been heavily restricted until recently. It is this very source that Akçam now uses to overturn the official narrative.

The documents presented here attest to a late-Ottoman policy of Turkification, the goal of which was no less than the radical demographic transformation of Anatolia. To that end, about one-third of Anatolia’s 15 million people were displaced, deported, expelled, or massacred, destroying the ethno-religious diversity of an ancient cultural crossroads of East and West, and paving the way for the Turkish Republic.

By uncovering the central roles played by demographic engineering and assimilation in the Armenian Genocide, this book will fundamentally change how this crime is understood and show that physical destruction is not the only aspect of the genocidal process.