Globalisation, Human Rights and Islam: Competing Narratives and Discursive Practices in the Muslim World

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Asif Mohiuddin

Abstract

Globalisation — the growing interpenetration of ideas, states, and markets across borders — has not only fostered the very blurring of distances but also growing avenues of appeal for citizens suppressed by their own states. There is no doubt that, in contemporary times, international norms and institutions for the protection of human rights are more developed than at any previous point in history. However, assaults on basic human rights continue, and the emergence of a global human rights regime may also be engendering new sources of human rights abuse. This paper examines how these developments have transformed the complex and mutable relationship between human rights and Islam and how this relationship is readjusting in response to the changing global situation. Focusing on the dramatic expansion of human rights discourse in the Muslim world, the paper argues that, for critics of Islam, the position on the incompatibility of Islam and human rights, which assumes two settled entities in an unstable relationship, is becoming hard to sustain — as is the position on the Western origin of human rights. The main implication of this study is that human rights principles can be a binding international norm in a globalised world and that many normative conventions can play a pioneering role in promoting these rights and contribute to the emergence of a multicultural society.

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