Freedom of Religion and Living Together

84 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2019

See all articles by Sohail Wahedi

Sohail Wahedi

Leiden Law School | Department of Jurisprudence

Date Written: May 9, 2019


Despite the international recognition of religious freedom as a fundamental human right, recent developments in the United States and Europe reveal that the Islamic faith has been singled out qua Islam for special prohibitions. The question is whether this sectarian approach is compatible with the normative liberal approach to religious freedom that emphasizes egalitarianism and neutrality. The answer to this question is, no. Although religion within the paradigm of liberal political philosophy does not warrant special legal protection qua religion, this article contends that it is equally troublesome to single out religion qua religion for special disfavored treatment, even if the justification is facially neutral. This article uses facially neutral examples, such as: the French burqa-ban case, the Travel Ban project of President Trump, and the anti-Sharia debacle in the state of Oklahoma. This article draws on the dichotomous approach of liberal political philosophy to religion and develops a non-sectarian framework of arguments to defend religious liberty.

Keywords: First Amendment, Free Exercise, Establishment Clause, Law and Religion, Religion in Liberal Political Philosophy

Suggested Citation

Wahedi, Sohail, Freedom of Religion and Living Together (May 9, 2019). California Western International Law Journal, Vol. 49, No. 2, 2019, Available at SSRN:

Sohail Wahedi (Contact Author)

Leiden Law School | Department of Jurisprudence ( email )

P.O. Box 9520
2300 RA Leiden, NL-2300RA

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