chapter  2
Religious Freedom, Democracy, and International Human Rights
ByJohn Witte, M. Christian Green
Pages 22

In January 2008, news headlines and human rights Web sites around the world broadcast the story of a death sentence handed down by a local Afghan court to a twenty-three-year-old journalism student, Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, for committing the crime of blasphemy. The new concerns about religious rights and religious offenses come at a time when religion has been a key beneficiary of a human rights revolution often viewed as universal, global, and democratic in normative aspiration, if not always in practical effect. Questions concerning religious freedom, democracy, and human rights are not new in international law. If the 1948 Universal Declaration provided the foundation for religious freedom as a human right, subsequent documents provided the framework. More recently, international attention and international law has come to focus on three particularly controversial issues: proselytism, conversion, and blasphemy. Proselytism is a feature and result of the democratic revolution of the modern world.