'Religious Freedom and Public Order: Fundamental-Rights Lawfare and the Construction of Majoritarian Identities'
Dr Matthew Nelson, Reader in Politics, SOAS University of London
4th September 2018, 6-8pm
Faculty Lounge, VC's Wing, Main Academic Block, LUMS
Building on constructivist theories concerning national identity formation as well as institutionalist theories regarding the regulatory power of law (here, constitutional and international human-rights laws protecting religious freedom ‘subject to’ shifting claims regarding public order), this paper examines a pattern of ‘religious' national identity formation in Muslim-majority Pakistan and Malaysia, with comparative references to Russia, China, and Indonesia. Specifically, the paper illuminates a pattern of intra-religious boundary-formation grounded in what I call fundamental-rights lawfare—a pattern in which majoritarian political actors urge senior judges to operationalize existing religious-freedom provisions in ways that ‘securitize’ certain self-identifying co-religionists as provocative heretics who, posing a risk to ‘public order’, lie outside the boundaries of each country’s constitutional community.