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Title: After the arab spring: the problem of freedom of religion
Authors: Losano, Mario
Keywords: Sharia
Coranic law
Legal Pluralism
Freedom of Religion
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: OBSERVARE. Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa
Citation: Losano, Mario G. (2012). "After the arab spring: the problem of freedom of religion". JANUS.NET e-journal of International Relations,Vol. 3, n.º 2 (fall 2012), pp. 1-16. retrieved [online] date accessed,
Abstract: The 2011 “Arab Spring” arouses, in Western societies, expectations that often do not take into account the real context of the Islamic countries. As a matter of fact, the Western Secular tradition frequently obstructs the understanding of the strong religious feeling that pervades the social reality of the Islamic world, even if in a non-uniform way: the modernists, traditionalists and fundamentalists’ school of thoughts have a different idea of the modern Islamic State. In order to clarify this diversity, the history of the relationships between State and Islam, the inter-relationship (in a degree that is unthinkable in Western culture) between State, religion and law and the consequent different perception of single individual behaviours have to be examined. This encounter-conflict with the Western political perspective became real in the Islamic States through the imposition of the Western law during the colonial period and – in the opposite direction – is taking place, today, in Europe through the increasing immigration of Islamic believers. The provision of concordats (a potential solution with other monotheistic religions) is not possible with the Islamic communities, because Islam does not take into consideration a hierarchically organized ecclesiastical structure and, therefore, the Western States cannot find a single and official interlocutor. This way, within each individual Western State, a frequently difficult coexistence between Western and Islamic States is growing, a coexistence that is leading to new forms of legal pluralism. On an international relations level, the economic difference between the Western States and those who took part in the “Arab Spring” make it difficult for these last countries to promptly build up a modern State. The potential models range from Iranian theocracy to Turkish Secularism, with innumerous intermediate solutions. Today, the tendency seems to go towards an Islamic State, as the Pakistani constitutional evolution shows: but any prediction is questionable, because the transformation process that started with the Arab Spring is just beginning. Finally, the Western constitution model struggles with the rigor of the Islamic religion that does not admit Muslim conversion to another religion. Whoever abandons Islam commits the crime of apostasy that the Coranic law punishes with death. The fundamental right of freedom of religion becomes, this way, an insurmountable obstacle for the introduction of a Western-style constitution in a State whose population is mainly Islamic.
Peer reviewed: yes
ISSN: 1647-7251
Publisher version:,-n-%C2%BA2-autumn-2012/articles/201-after-the-arab-spring-the-problem-of-freedom-of-religion
Appears in Collections:OBSERVARE - JANUS.NET e-journal of International Relations. Vol. 3, n. 2 (Autumn 2012)
BUAL - Artigos/Papers

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