chapter  10
21 Pages

The Politics of Religious Establishment: Recognition of Muslim Marriages in South Africa

ByPeter G. Danchin†

This chapter explores the normative dissonances and antinomies generated by the politics around religious establishment by examining post-apartheid law reform efforts in South Africa to recognize Muslim marriages. Since the late 1990s, the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) initiated various projects to recognize the claims of and redress past discrimination against different religious communities, including tribal groups living under customary law and religious minorities with their own family and personal status laws. In this respect South Africa's response to the claims of its Muslim communities sheds light on the two main dilemmas haunting modern liberal accounts of the right to religious freedom. The South African case has shown to complicate these narratives. It allows to see that the neutrality of the political order is always an abstract particularism comprising contingent settlements and negotiated religion-state establishments. The South African case allows to see that the universality of the right to religious freedom is always a concrete universal claiming normative authority.