Religion and Human Rights in the Draft Palestinian Constitution

On 18
September 2012, the Institute of Law (IoL) at BZU organized a brainstorming
session on ldquo;Religion and Human Rights in the Draft Palestinian Constitution.rdquo; In
addition to a number of IoL legal researchers, the session brought together former Minister of Justice, Dr. Ali
Khashan, and Dr. William Nassar.



In his
opening remarks, Mr. Jamil Salem, IoL Director, addressed the relationship
between human rights and religious themes, which have drawn the attention of
many legal scholars. The debate over this issue has given rise to theoretical
and practical issues that need further consideration and understanding. Whereas
the post-modern world is adopting a variety of opinions and perspectives on human
rights and Islam, the IoL will seek to identify various dimensions and
viewpoints on this issue, as well as search for a ldquo;common ground in the midst
of such diversity and plurality.rdquo;

Mustafa Marrsquo;i, Manager of the IoL-based Religion and Human Rights in the Draft
Palestinian Constitution project, explained that the brainstorming session ldquo;is
designed to identify major themes of thorny issues in the relationship between
religion and state.rdquo;

Narmin Siyam, legal researcher at the IoL, presented a preliminary study on the
historical development of the relationship between religion and the state,
including an overview of the historical context of the evolution of secularism
and impact of Arab revolutions and political transformations on human rights.

highlighted that the relationship between religion and the state is critical,
controversial and requires an in-depth examination.

explained that the concept of the state is secular. The state per se cannot
have a religion; it is the people and political system that have one. In
regards to public rights and freedoms, Nassar emphasised that Arab states have
reservations about provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
which violate Islamic Law. Referring to a major problem of Arab constitutions,
Dr. Nassar stated that Arab legislators associate rights with obligations, thereby
infringing on human rights.

At the
end of the session, Salem and Marrsquo;i concluded that this brainstorming session
will serve as the background, on the basis of which IoL legal researchers will
identify and explore major themes in the relationship between religion and the
state. Relevant conclusions and recommendations will be presented in a conference the IoL plans to organize in early December 2012.