Rule of Law and Religion in Asia: Emerging Trends & Contemporary Challenges

November 28 Tuesday


November 28 - 29, 2017





On 28th and 29th November the Rule of Law Programme Asia organized the Workshop "Rule of Law and Religion in Asia: Emerging Trends & Contemporary Challenges" in Singapore.

Also available in Deutsch

Experts from Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Sri Lanka were invited to discuss the interaction between Rule of Law and Religion in Asia, especially in countries where strong religious identification exists in the political and social spheres.

The workshop started with the history of constitutionalism and the religious influence on constitutional drafting. In the first panel, experts from countries around the region and from Germany discussed religion in law-making and policy-making from an Asian and a German perspective. Some of the main points discussed were the role of the constitution as the guardian of religious freedom, the state as the regulating body on religion and the question of how to address the rising problem of religious populism worldwide by means of policy-making. Subsequently, the participants discussed the relationship between religion and law in the Asian region. It became clear that all these countries face the challenge of creating frameworks that guarantee freedom of religion or belief as well as peace between the various religious communities in the countries. In this context, Singapore is a positive example in regards to creating conditions for a peaceful coexistence of a religiously pluralistic society.

On the second day the discussion began with the very relevant topic of religion in the age of extremism and terrorism. The participants agreed on the fact that efficient legal frameworks are crucial in order to prevent extremism and to fight terrorism, and that this need becomes even more urgent in times of digitalization. The following discussion on the courts’ role as religious arbiters brought up the difficult and highly relevant question of how to organize the coexistence of civil law and other religious legal rules, such as the Sharia law. Afterwards, the experts discussed the topic of “Religious plurality and civil society”, focusing mainly on the responsibility of the state to protect their citizens from being recruited by extremist groups. The last presentation of the workshop was on “Religious Freedom, the Rule of Law and Le Vivre Ensemble within Secular States with Religiously Diverse Societies”. The final discussion also raised the question of how states can and must prevent the self-radicalization of their citizens, which has become a topic of growing concern, given the facilitating role of the internet in this regard. In view of the fast development of digitalization and the many actual and legal challenges states therefore have to face, the creation of efficient legal frameworks as well as the education of the citizens is crucial in order to guarantee the Rule of Law in a context where religion plays an important role in the societies.

Contact person

Gisela Elsner

Head of the Rule of Law Programme Asia

Gisela Elsner
Phone +65 6603 6171
Fax +65 6603 6170
Languages: Deutsch,‎ Español,‎ English