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Similarities and differences in governing religious diversity in different South and Southeast Asian countries

Gurpreet 3
If one looks at existing legal framework, there may be some similarities. I think most of the countries around in the region are– formally say that they give all the communities the right to religious worship. Often more than religious worship– a right to practise their religion and a great deal of religious liberty. The big difference, really, is that in almost all these countries, one religion is given either the status of the official religion of the state or given a preferred position. And that makes all the difference. Because then, as I mentioned earlier, the culture associated with that religion dominates the public domain.
People or members of that religious community feel that they have a special status, and therefore legitimately, their presence should be more dominant in the public arena. Where there is an established state religion, often it comes with some legal disabilities– that the highest positions cannot be held by people belonging to another religion. There would be strong measures, legal measures, to protect the official religion. So one instance, in Pakistan, blasphemy laws would be there. And this is the case in many other parts elsewhere. So I think that’s really the big difference.

In this video interview Gurpreet Mahajan compares between India and its neighbouring countries briefly with a view to identifying the similarities and differences in the challenges they face in governing religious diversity.

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Governing Religion: Global Challenges and Comparative Approaches

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