Research Handbook on Law and Religion
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Research Handbook on Law and Religion

Edited by Rex Ahdar

Offering an interdisciplinary, international and philosophical perspective, this comprehensive Research Handbook explores both perennial and recent legal issues that concern the modern state and its interaction with religious communities and individuals.
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Chapter 16: Dangers of the changing narrative of human rights: why democracy and security need religious freedom

Merilin Kiviorg


This chapter analyses new debates and challenges related to the protection of freedom of religion or belief fuelled by the current security debate. It probes the question of whether the story of human rights – including the right to freedom of religion or belief – is being re-written from starting points other than dignity in the current emotional and turbulent environment. It draws upon Eastern Europe, more precisely, recent case law on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russian courts and new extremism laws that have influenced approaches in the region, in support of the argument that this re-writing represents a danger to all human rights (including freedom of religion or belief), as well as to democracy and security. The European/Eastern European focus determines that in so far as reference is made to international law and practice it will primarily draw on the regional human rights frameworks in Europe.

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