Integrating Muslim Women Within European Societies: Muslim Human Rights Discourse and the Cross-Cultural Approach to Human Rights in Europe

  • Sonia BoulosEmail author
Part of the Studies in Global Justice book series (JUST, volume 18)


The rights of Muslim women living in migrant communities in Europe have become a symbol of contestation between minorities and receiving states. Such tensions cast a doubt on the universality of human rights. To mediate between competing visions regarding human rights, this chapter looks for guidance in the drafting history of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is based on a cross-cultural universality. Since this could lead to difficulties in reaching a common understanding of human rights, the drafters of the UDHR highlighted the importance of continuous cross-cultural dialogues to enlarge areas of common understandings. This chapter argues that European societies should not insist on the exclusive use of a secular human rights discourse to protect the rights of Muslim women in Europe. Muslim minorities have the right to reassert the universality of human rights by reevaluating and modernizing their reading of Islam. Consequently, they should be allowed to engage in a cross-cultural dialogue with the majority to debate the meaning of human rights. This requires adopting a flexible notion of secularism that recognizes the nuanced difference between “separating religion from State” and “separating religion from politics”. Muslims are entitled to base their conception of human rights on religious morality, although they cannot present their claims as the divine will of God. They must resort to public reason in promoting their claims. In addition, Muslim minorities cannot expect the State not to use its coercive power when minorities inflict harm on vulnerable members of their group.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Social SciencesNebrija UniversityMadridSpain

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