Religious Discrimination in the European Union and Western Democracies, 1990 to 2008

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Department 1

Political Science


Book Summary: Religion and the Discourse of Human Rights uses Israel as a test case to explore the universal challenges associated with the complex relationship between religious traditions and the liberal doctrine of human rights.

Edited by Professors Hanoch Dagan, Shahar Lifshitz, and Yedidia Z. Stern, this groundbreaking volume presents a series of case studies that examine the interaction between religion and human rights from various angles. Among other approaches, the authors investigate the possibility of using religion as a source of human rights and suggest a discursive framework for dialogue between a religious tradition and the human rights tradition.

Religion and the Discourse of Human Rights is the product of the first international conference of IDI's Human Rights and Judaism project.

Chapter Summary: This study focuses on exploring the variation in the treatment of religious minorities in the West using a special version of the Religion and State Minorities round 2 (RAS2-M) dataset. The extent and causes of religious discrimination against 113 religious minorities in 36 democracies in the European Union (EU) and the West from 1990 to 2008 are analyzed in three stages. First, we examine the mean levels of religious discrimination on a yearly basis. Second, we inspect the extent of each of the 29 specific categories of religious discrimination. Finally, we look at the causes of religious discrimination, using OLS (ordinary least squares) multiple regressions for 1990, 1996, 2002, and 2008 in order to assess whether the relationships found in the bivariate analysis are present and consistent over time. The analysis compares theories related to the securitization of Islam in the West and the defense of culture argument. We find that Muslim and Christian minorities suffer from the highest levels of discrimination in the EU and Western democracies. Not surprisingly, states with high levels of religious legislation—indicating that they strongly support religion—are also associated with high levels of religious discrimination. The findings demonstrate that both theories explain aspects of the changes over time in religious discrimination in the EU and Western Democracies.

Required Publisher's Statement

Original version is available from the publisher at: http://en.idi.org.il/analysis/idi-press/publications/english-books/religion-and-human-rights/

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