Politics of Religious Freedom and the Minority Question: A Middle Eastern Genealogy

Saba Mahmood, Anthropology Department, University of California, Berkeley talks about the politics of religious freedom in the context of the Middle East at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, Georgetown University.

4 October 2010


The right to religious freedom is widely regarded as a crowning achievement of secular-liberal democracy, one that guarantees the peaceful co-existence of religiously diverse populations. Enshrined in national constitutions and international laws and treaties, the right to freedom of conscience is seen as a key mechanism for ensuring that religious minorities are able to practice their traditions freely. Through a focus on the history of the Middle East and Egypt in particular, Professor Saba Mahmood’s talk problematized this account of religious liberty by analyzing the structure of inequality that characterizes the relationship between First and Third World sovereignty within international law, and how the historical development of the practice and concept of religious liberty has been intertwined with the exercise of Western power.


Professor Mahmood’s talk was cosponsored by the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

Comments are closed.