Islamic Constitutions and Targeted Discrimination
AbstractDiscrimination against religious minorities is widespread in Muslim-majority countries. Their governments impose some of the tightest restrictions on the religious freedom of minorities (Fox 2007, 2014; Grim and Finke 2010). Previous research has shown that, in spite of these clear statistical patterns, the threat to religious minorities is not a direct consequence of the mere composition of countries’ populations. Muslim countries that choose to entrench the use of Islamic law in their constitution show a substantial increase in the government’s religious discrimination against religious minorities. After accounting for the presence of Islamic constitutions, the share of Muslims in society is no longer significantly correlated with religious discrimination (Gouda and Gutmann 2021).
This study examines the effects of formal institutions, specifically constitutions that prescribe Sharia law as a source of legislation, on discrimination targeted against specific religious minorities. We argue that in states where Sharia law becomes constitutionalized, religious minorities will be treated by the state in accordance with their categorization under Islamic law (Gibb and Kramers 1991, p. 206). Theory suggests that the expected level of discrimination rises from orthodox Muslim minorities via other monotheistic and polytheistic religions to apostates and heretical Muslim sects, which are likely to experience the worst forms of religious discrimination.