Religions, Vol. 12, Pages 881: Religious Minorities in Asia: Between the Scylla of Minority Protection and Charybdis of Religious Freedom Rights?
Religions doi: 10.3390/rel12100881
Jaclyn L. Neo
This article examines the intersection of religious freedom and minority protection within the Asian context. It argues that, to the extent that a focus on minority protection draws greater attention to the collective and communitarian dimensions of religious practice, it has the potential to enrich the discourse on religious freedom protection. I identify three areas of possible convergence—first, where a minority-focused regime leads to a richer understanding of the intersections between culture, language, and religion; secondly, where a focus on minority protection leads to positive measures by the state to protect religious minorities; and thirdly, where a minority regime founds a right of religious minorities to political participation. Nonetheless, I will also point out that there are limits to minority protection. It may even be a double-edged sword, as it serves to reify differences with the rest of society and risks permanently marginalizing the group as a minority. This could be the case even if there are institutional designs, formal or informal, to provide for religious minorities’ political participation.
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