'Do not protect and harm religion because it is religion'

Sohail Wahedi's research focuses on the relationship between law and religion: can religion be excluded for special protection, and may religion be used as a basis for adverse treatment? In this context, he pays attention to whether religious freedom must be protected separately in law. He also researches the admissibility of boy and girl circumcision, face-covering clothing and President Trump's entry bans.

Religion in law

Western countries are again struggling with the question of how to deal with religion in law. This struggle has been visible for a long time in discussions about what does and does not deserve protection as an expression of religion. But for a number of years, there has been a fundamental debate within legal theory and liberal political philosophy about how you could justify special protection of religion in law.

Fundamental Debate

This debate shows that there is no reason to protect religion separately. Incidentally, this conclusion does not mean that religion cannot be protected or that it must be actively opposed. Other fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and association can sufficiently protect religion.

Adverse treatment

Although there is, therefore, no reason to protect religion in terms of religion in law, development has been going on for a number of years now in which religion is excluded for far-reaching restrictions in terms of religion. This adverse treatment varies from legislation prohibiting the wearing of certain items of clothing (such as wearing headscarves or veils) to negative decisions in relation to issuing building permits for places of worship, admitting migrants from other religious backgrounds, and actively advocating a differentiated interpretation of freedom of religion: tolerant of the dominant Christian tradition and careful of Islam. This adverse development cannot be reconciled with the central principles of liberal democracy: equality and neutrality.

The defence will take place on November 28, 2019, at 15.30 in the Senate Hall of the Erasmus Building.

The digital version of dissertation can be found here.


About Sohail Wahedi

Sohail Wahedi is an Assistant Professor at the Sociology, Theory and Methodology department of Erasmus School of Law.