The Rising Emphasis on Tolerance in the Middle East

By: C Donald Smedley  

In the recently released 2018 Muslim document “The Washington Declaration,” the authors desire to offer a more robust version of religious freedom than has previously appeared by either a Muslim majority state actor or an influential civil society actor. Central to their position is that, all people, regardless of faith, are entitled to religious liberty. Building, at times, on previous documents, particularly the related, just fully released, 2016 “Marrakesh Declaration,” as well as medieval and contemporary works, the Washington Declaration attempts to offer an explanation of what this liberty entails. No one declaration can speak for all Islam, but the Washington Declaration serves as an excellent representative because of the breadth of its adherents, because of what it affirms, and because it gives context to an aspect of religious freedom being instituted in different states in the Middle East. In the UAE, as one example, a concerted and robust effort is being made to highlight the value of tolerance through policy change and cultural events to emphasize its significance not only within the Emirates but within Islam. Tolerance is one aspect of religious freedom with important consequences and implications. This paper examines the movement and its potential impact on Muslim majority countries, particularly the UAE, and on the specific concept of religious liberty.

Liberty, Tolerance, Islam
The Politics of Religion
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

C Donald Smedley

Senior Research Fellow, Center for Muslim--Christian Track Two Diplomacy and Religious Freedom, Rivendell Institute, United States
United States

Senior Research Fellow; Director, Center for Muslim--Christian Track Two Diplomacy and Religious Freedom at the Rivendell Institute.