Political and Civil Liberties Elsewhere 2

How are political and civil liberties treated outside of liberal democracies? Here is how one country handles freedom of religion:  According to the Constitution of Saudi Arabia, the system of government is an absolute monarchy and a theocratic state.[1] The Constitution designates Islam as the state religion and all law is consistent with Islamic Shari’ah. According to the U.S. Department of State, conversion from Islam to another faith is considered apostasy and can be punishable by death.[2]

By contrast, in the United States, the first amendment to U.S. Constitution says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This protection has been repeatedly upheld in our courts throughout our history, even after some groups have tried to deny religious freedom to other groups.[3]

Image: Riyad, Saudi Arabia. B. Alotaby.

Excerpted from Democracy is Precious.

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[1] Elections in Saudi Arabia have been historically rare. Municipal elections were held in 2005 and 2011. In September 2011, King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and to stand in the 2015 municipal elections.

[2] See https://2009-2017.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2013/nea/222311.htm

[3] Examples of religious repression include the conversion of American Indian children, the massacre of 17 Mormons in Missouri in 1838, and the Bloody Monday anti-Catholic riot in Louisville, Kentucky, 1855.

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