Guiora, “Freedom from Religion”

Freedom from ReligionThis month, Oxford University Press published Freedom from Religion: Rights and National Security, Second Edition by Amos Guiora (Quinney College of Law, University of Utah).  The publisher’s description follows.

Although many books on terrorism and religious extremism have been published in the years since 9/11, none of them written by Western authors call for the curtailment of religious freedom and freedom of expression for the sake of greater security. Issues like torture, domestic surveillance, and unlawful detentions have dominated the literature in this area, but few, if any, major scholars have questioned the vast allowances made by Western nations for the freedoms of religion and speech.

Freedom from Religion challenges the almost sacrosanct inviolability of these two civil liberties. By drawing the connection between politically-correct tolerance of extremist speech and the rise of terrorist activity, this book sets the context for its unique proposal that governments should introduce new limits on religious practice within their borders. To demonstrate the wisdom of this course, the author presents the disparate policies and security circumstances of five countries: the U.S., the UK, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Israel. The book benefits not just from the author’s own counter-terrorism experience in Israel and the U.S. but also from an international advisory group of leading scholars from all five of the countries under review.

This second edition includes significant new material analyzing the trial of Warren Jeffs, self-censorship in the face of religious sensitivity, religious extremism and violence in Israel, and the complicated tension in the Netherlands between speech and religion.

In it, Guiora responds to public discussion and criticism provoked by the proposal presented in the first edition that governments impose limits on religious extremist practices and speech within their borders. In doing so, Guiora sheds new light on the existential and practical predicaments confronting civil democratic society: how much intolerance should the nation-state tolerate and to whom does government owe a duty.

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