New Essay: A Duty to Remember?

"A Duty to Remember? Politics and Morality of Remembering Past Atrocities"

by Ziya Meral

Journal of International Political Anthropology, Vol 5 (2012) No.1 

An allusion to a “duty to remember” the dark episodes of history is a common occurrence in
today’s politics and popular discourse. The vision behind the call never to forget genocides,
massacres and wars is noble and praiseworthy. However, the way in which such events are
formulated and used is so embedded in the present as to raise serious questions about the
morality and political agendas of those who selectively undertake projects to enshrine past
atrocities. This essay seeks not only to decode the socio-political process for handling the past
but also to challenge the conventional belief that remembering the past will prevent future crimes
and heal countries. It goes on to argue for a balanced, realistic and ethical relationship between
the past and present.

New Publication: Caring for the "Other" as one of "Us"

Dear readers,

I am pleased to notify you on the release of a new book I contributed to.

Abraham's Children: Liberty and Tolerance in an Age of Religious Conflict has been released by Yale University Press. It brings together 15 Jewish, Muslim and Christian scholars, activists and politicians to challenge and urge their co-religionists to follow a path of peace making in an age of conflict.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu endorsed the book with the following statement: "Tolerance is in all-too-short supply in our world. Most attempts to cultivate greater tolerance urge us to set aside our differences, including our religious differences, and focus on what unites us. Many people find it difficult if not impossible to do that. The authors in this collection, each one a leading member of one or another of the Abrahamic religions, take a strikingly different and fresh approach. Each one probes the resources of his or her own religion to make a case for tolerating one's fellow human beings even when one disagrees on important matters. Over and over I had the experience of scales falling off my eyes. It would be hard to exaggerate the importance and promise of these fascinating essays for advancing the cause of tolerance."

Below is the full list of contributors.. 

Intro: Kelly Clark

Jewish Voices: Einat Ramon, Dov Berkovits, Leah Shakdiel, Arik Ascherman, Nurit Peled-Elhanan

Christian Voices: Jimmy Carter, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Ziya Meral, Hanna Siniora, Miraslov Volf

Muslim Voices: Abdurrahman Wahid, Hedieh Mirahmadi, Fethullah Gulen, Rana Husseini, Abdolkarim Soroush

New Essay: International Religious Freedom Advocacy in the Field

A new essay where I survey how religious freedom advocacy is done today, how and where it differs from regular human rights advocacy work, what challenges it faces and its future.

"International Religious Freedom Advocacy in the Field: Challenges Effective Strategies and the Road Ahead", The Review of Faith & International Affairs; Volume 10, Issue 3, 2012;

Access the essay here!

New Essay on Muslim-Majority States and Human Rights

"Muslim-Majority States and Human Rights: From the UDHR to Durban Conference", Religion Compass, Volume 4, Issue 5, Pages 876 - 886, September 2009


Thus far, public debates around human rights in the Islamic world have mostly been abstract debates around Islamic thought. This has taken the form of arguments around faulty notions of clash of civilisations or the attempts of Muslim thinkers to demonstrate that Islam is compatible with contemporary ideals of democracy and human rights. In contrast, this essay focuses exclusively on how Muslim-majority states have reacted to the development of the human rights both domestically and internationally. It presents an overview of the emergence of Cairo Declaration and Arab Charter on Human Rights and current debates around Defamation resolutions and Durban conferences on racism, along with politics of sharia and domestic power challenges faced by Muslim-majority states and their effects on implementation of human rights in the Islamic world.

Read the new essay by Ziya Meral at Religion Compass