Corteguera, “Death by Effigy: A Case from the Mexican Inquisition”

This month, University of Pennsylvania Press will publish Death by Effigy: A Case from the Mexican Inquisition by Luis R. Corteguera (University of Kansas). The publisher’s description follows.

On July 21, 1578, the Mexican town of Tecamachalco awoke to news of a scandal. A doll-like effigy hung from the door of the town’s church. Its two-faced head had black chicken feathers instead of hair. Each mouth had a tongue sewn onto it, one with a forked end, the other with a gag tied around it. Signs and symbols adorned the effigy, including a sambenito, the garment that the Inquisition imposed on heretics. Below the effigy lay a pile of firewood. Taken together, the effigy, signs, and symbols conveyed a deadly message: the victim of the scandal was a Jew who should burn at the stake. Over the course of four years, inquisitors conducted nine trials and interrogated dozens of witnesses, whose testimonials revealed a vivid portrait of friendship, love, hatred, and the power of rumor in a Mexican colonial town.

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Sisk, “Between Terror and Tolerance: Religious Leaders, Conflict, and Peacemaking”

This November, Georgetown University Press will publish Between Terror and Tolerance: Religious Leaders, Conflict, and Peacemaking edited by Timothy D. Sisk (University of Denver). The publisher’s description follows.

Civil war and conflict within countries is the most prevalent threat to peace and security in the opening decades of the twenty-first century. A pivotal factor in the escalation of tensions to open conflict is the role of elites in exacerbating tensions along identity lines by giving the ideological justification, moral reasoning, and call to violence. Between Terror and Tolerance examines the varied roles of religious leaders in societies deeply divided by ethnic, racial, or religious conflict. The chapters in this book explore cases when religious leaders have justified or catalyzed violence along identity lines, and other instances when religious elites have played a critical role in easing tensions or even laying the foundation for peace and reconciliation.

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Faour on Religious Education and Pluralism in Egypt and Tunisia

Muhammad Faour (Carnegie Middle East Center) has published Religious Education and Pluralism in Egypt and Tunisia, a contribution to the Carnegie Institute’s Working Paper Series. The abstract follows.

Religion occupies a prominent position in the education systems of all Arab countries. With the rise of Islamists across the Arab world, especially in Egypt and Tunisia, there is a possibility that the new parties in power will update education curricula to reflect conservative Islamic beliefs. Education is very important for any ideological party that assumes political power. And in the long run, the Islamists of Egypt and Tunisia will target education reform to ensure that more Islamic content is included in all students’ schooling. But in the short term, the emerging power of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Egypt and Ennahda in Tunisia is unlikely to lead to a dramatic change in the curricula Read more

Hate Speech and Foreign Relations

At Opinio Juris, my friend and former colleague Peter Spiro has an interesting post on recent events in Egypt and Libya. Peter argues that there is a foreign relations rationale for banning hate speech. In a world where obscure YouTube videos like “The Innocence of Muslims” can result in the murder of one of our ambassadors, he says, the US should consider banning such material. He notes that European countries have stricter limits on religious hate speech than we and still manage to have functioning democracies.

As I say, it’s an interesting post. Actually, though, this doesn’t seem a workable solution for the US, legally or politically. First, I don’t think Peter means “hate speech,” which typically connotes speech likely to incite violence against minorities. A ban on “hate speech” wouldn’t have applied to “The Innocence of Muslims,” which was not likely to incite violence against anyone, except perhaps the film’s producers.  I think the category Peter is looking for is “offensive” speech, specifically, speech that would offend listeners’ religious sensibilities. It’s true that European countries are more comfortable than the US with Read more