“Religion, Law and Intolerance in Indonesia” (Lindsey & Pausacker, eds.)

In May, Routledge released “Religion, Law and Intolerance in Indonesia,” edited by Tim Lindsey (University of Melbourne) and Helen Pausacker (University of Melbourne).  The publisher’s description follows:

Despite its overwhelmingly Muslim majority, Indonesia has always been seen as exceptional for its diversity and pluralism. In recent years, however, there has been a 9781138100879rise in “majoritarianism”, with resurgent Islamist groups pushing hard to impose conservative values on public life – in many cases with considerable success. This has sparked growing fears for the future of basic human rights, and, in particular, the rights of women and sexual and ethnic minority groups. There have, in fact, been more prosecutions of unorthodox religious groups since the fall of Soeharto in 1998 than there were under the three decades of his authoritarian rule. Some Indonesians even feel that the pluralism they thought was constitutionally guaranteed by the national ideology, the Pancasila, is now under threat. This book contains essays exploring these issues by prominent scholars, lawyers and activists from within Indonesia and beyond, offering detailed accounts of the political and legal implications of rising resurgent Islamism in Indonesia. Examining particular cases of intolerance and violence against minorities, it also provides an account of the responses offered by a weak state that now seems too often unwilling to intervene to protect vulnerable minorities against rising religious intolerance.

Smyth, “Toronto, the Belfast of Canada”

This May, University of Toronto Press will release “Toronto, the Belfast of Canada: The Orange Order and the Shaping of Municipal Culture” by William J. Smyth (National University of Ireland).  The publisher’s description follows:

TorontoIn late nineteenth-century Toronto, municipal politics were so dominated by the Irish Protestants of the Orange Order that the city was known as the “Belfast of Canada.” For almost a century, virtually every mayor of Toronto was an Orangeman and the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne was a civic holiday. Toronto, the Belfast of Canada explores the intolerant origins of today’s cosmopolitan city.

Using lodge membership lists, census data, and municipal records, William J. Smyth details the Orange Order’s role in creating Toronto’s municipal culture of militant Protestantism, loyalism, and monarchism. One of Canada’s foremost experts on the Orange Order, Smyth analyses the Orange Order’s influence between 1850 and 1950, the city’s frequent public displays of sectarian tensions, and its occasional bouts of rioting and mayhem.

El-Gallal, “Islam and the West: The Limits of Freedom of Religion”

ASI Welten des Islams 4_Hardcover.inddThis April, Peter Lang International Academic Publishers will publish, Islam and the West: The Limits of Freedom of Religion by Hana Sadik El-Gallal (Benghazi University).

Religious Intolerance is on the rise. Debating religious freedom often means debating «West» versus «Islam».  This book challenges crucial stereotypes around this issue.  It explores the scope of the right to freedom of religion in the International Treaties and Declarations and investigates why this right creates misunderstandings and misconceptions that often lead to intolerance and discrimination in countries of various political, social, and cultural backgrounds.

Islam and the West attempts to find reasons for the rise of religious intolerance.  The author looks at the limitation of the religious symbols law in France and the anti-terrorism measures in the USA; she discusses also Religious minorities and Apostasy in Saudia Arabia and Egypt. Furthermore, she calls for extending the scope, asking questions such as: How do societies deal with different religions and beliefs? How could and do they find ways of reconciling their conflicting demands while protecting human worth? How can universal values be found and established?

Duncan, “Violence and Vengeance: Religious Conflict and Its Aftermath in Eastern Indonesia”

This October, Cornell University Press will publish Violence and Vengeance: Violenve and VengeanceReligious Conflict and Its Aftermath in Eastern Indonesia by Christopher R. Duncan (Arizona State University).  The publisher’s description follows.

Between 1999 and 2000, sectarian fighting fanned across the eastern Indonesian province of North Maluku, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. What began as local conflicts between migrants and indigenous people over administrative boundaries spiraled into a religious war pitting Muslims against Christians and continues to influence communal relationships more than a decade after the fighting stopped. Christopher R. Duncan spent several years conducting fieldwork in North Maluku, and in Violence and Vengeance, he examines how the individuals actually taking part in the fighting understood and experienced the conflict.

Rather than dismiss religion as a facade for the political and economic motivations of the regional elite, Duncan explores how and why participants came to perceive the conflict as one of religious difference. He examines how these perceptions of religious violence altered the conflict, leading to large-scale massacres in houses of worship, forced conversions of entire communities, and other acts of violence that stressed religious identities. Duncan’s analysis extends beyond the period of violent conflict and explores how local understandings of the violence have complicated the return of forced migrants, efforts at conflict resolution and reconciliation.

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.

Crouch on Criminal Trials of Religious Minorities

Melissa Crouch (Melbourne Law School) has posted Criminal (In)Justice in Indonesia: The Cikeusik Trials. The abstract follows.

This article examines the recent court trials of the twelve men who were implicated in the brutal killing of three Ahmadis, and of injuring several others, in a demonstration against Ahmadiyah in Cikeusik in 2011. It calls into question the integrity of the criminal justice system, and argues that the government must take a firm stance against the perpetrators of vigilante violence by ensuring fair and impartial trials in criminal cases concerning religious intolerance, rather than criminalising the activities of religious minorities.

Nussbaum, “The New Religious Intolerance”

From Harvard University Press, a new book by Martha Nussbaum (University  of Chicago), The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age (forthcoming 2012). The publisher’s description follows.

What impulse prompted some newspapers to attribute the murder of 77 Norwegians to Islamic extremists, until it became evident that a right-wing Norwegian terrorist was the perpetrator? Why did Switzerland, a country of four minarets, vote to ban those structures? How did a proposed Muslim cultural center in lower Manhattan ignite a fevered political debate across the United States? In The New Religious Intolerance, Martha C. Nussbaum surveys such developments and identifies the fear behind these reactions. Drawing inspiration from philosophy, history, and literature, she suggests a route past this limiting response and toward a more equitable, imaginative, and free society.

Fear, Nussbaum writes, is “more narcissistic than other emotions.” Legitimate anxieties become distorted and displaced, driving laws and policies biased against those different from us. Overcoming intolerance requires consistent application of universal principles of respect for conscience. Just as important, it requires greater understanding. Nussbaum challenges us to embrace freedom of religious observance for all, extending to others what we demand for ourselves. She encourages us to expand our capacity for empathetic imagination by cultivating our curiosity, seeking friendship across religious lines, and establishing a consistent ethic of decency and civility. With this greater understanding and respect, Nussbaum argues, we can rise above the politics of fear and toward a more open and inclusive future.

Martyrs’ Mirror: The Paradoxical Road from Persecution to Tolerance

Last month, Adrian Chastain Weimer, assistant professor of history at Providence College, published Martyrs’ Mirror: Persecution and Holiness in Early New England (Oxford).  The book studies seventeenth-century colonial conceptions of martyrdom and religious persecution and the ways in which these conceptions unexpectedly shaped American civil rights landscape, especially in the areas of religious liberty and tolerance.

Weimer explores the power of martyrdom in the religious imagination in the early New England colonies.  The Puritans were subject to a variety of persecutions in England.  In the colonies, the memory of such persecution was fresh, informing the Puritans’ self conception as martyrs; so, as early as 1641, the Massachusetts Body of Liberties already outlawed the practices employed by the English to persecute them like oath ordeals before ecclesiastical courts under threat of torture, imprisonment, and death.  (It was this memory that would eventually develop, for example, into the constitutional prohibition against forcing persons to incriminate themselves.  See R. Carter Pittman, The Colonial and Constitutional History of the Privilege Against Self-Incrimination in America, 21 Va. L. Rev. 763 (1935) for a full discussion of this development.)

Complicating the picture, however, Professor Weimer adds the fact of religious persecution by Puritans in the colonies.  New England Congregationalists, Separatists, Quakers, Baptists, and Antinomians all suffered for their beliefs in England and also conceived of themselves as martyrs, a perception that only deepened when the Puritans, in turn, targeted them in the New World.  This passing on of persecution from Puritans to other dissenting religionists created a form of competition amongst early Americans to cast themselves in the narrative role of the persecuted martyr.

Weimer argues that, through this narratological competition, these ugly conflicts gave rise to paradoxical notions of religious tolerance.  The coveted narrative of persecuted martyr, which suggested divine favor, actually led to colonists’ looking askance at persecution.  Ultimately, what these diverse groups shared were memories of persecution.  And eventually, these memories and the competition for the role of martyr gave rise to legally enshrined rights of religious freedom that have developed until today.

Please see Oxford University Press’s description of the text after the jump. Continue reading

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