Friday 10 November 2017

Cultural distinctiveness is no excuse for rejecting universal human rights standards

Morris Ayek
In a recent contribution to the Qantara website, Syrian writer Morris Ayek rejects the idea that Muslim countries have a right to make reservations on grounds of their 'cultural distinctiveness' regarding the applicability of the UN Declaration on Human Rights and other instruments of international law that have been derived from it. With his uncompromising defence of the validity of universal human rights standards, he joins the ranks of other Muslim intellectuals, such as  the legal scholars Abdullahi an-Na'im (cf. also this earlier post on this blog) and Khaled Abou El Fadl. Both would agree with Ayek's observation that:

Abdullahi an-Na'im

Regardless of the culture from which they emerge, universal values apply to all. For example, the concept of universal human rights is universally applicable, even though it has its roots in Western civilisation.

Khaled Abou El Fadl
Click here to read Ayek's article in full.The article also contains a long clip of a lecture by the Iranian philosopher Abdolkarim Soroush on 'Reason, Freedom and Democracy' -- at the same the title of one of his best known books).


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