Killing in the Name of Islam? Assessing the Tunisian Approach to Criminalising the Practice of Takfīr and Incitement to Religious Hatred against International and Regional Human Rights Instruments

Mohamed Badar, Polona Florijančič

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The rise of different strands of political Islam in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East since the 1970s and the lack of a robust political alternative during the Arab Spring have paved the way for the widespread issuance of ‘accusations of unbelief’ (takfīri ‘fatwas’), i.e. pronouncements of unbelief against individuals, groups of people or even institutions by Islamist movements. These fatwas fit into the broader context of radical Islamist ideologies spread by systematic hate propaganda and together form a deadly combination amounting to instigation to murder. A need to address this particular form of incitement, together with the spread of terrorist ideology in general, has arisen in states with large Muslim populations in order to protect the essential human rights impacted by such speech and to fulfil the obligations imposed by UN Security Council Resolutions.

Tunisia has chosen a head-on approach to addressing this problem by criminalising accusations of takfīr and incitement to religious hatred and loathing as terrorist offences. Such an approach can be seen as an encroachment upon the right to freedom of expression, yet it has to be balanced against states’ positive obligations in protecting essential competing human rights. Drawing on the jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee of the ICCPR and the African Commission of the ACHPR as well as literature in the field of human rights, this paper demonstrates the interrelation between the right to life, freedom from fear, security of the person and the right to dignity and their violation through unfettered takfīrism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Journal of Human Rights
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 25 Oct 2021

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