Human Rights in the Muslim World: Specific Rights

Figure 1.--

There are a wide range of human rights which should be assessed when comparing counties around the world. These include religious freedom, political rights, corruption, women's rights, sexual orientatin rights, judicial rights, educatinal opportunities, and other basic rights. A major concern in any assessment of these basic rights are the extent to which minority rights are protected. We will be glad to consider any other basic rights that readers believe should be considered.


Corruption is often not considered a violation of human rights. In fact, corruption can lead to major violations of humam rights and the democratic system. An ahhorance of corruption was at the heart of Jacksonian democracy. Corruption also robs governments of the resources needed to address deep seated problems like education, health care, poverty, and others. A good monitor of corruption around the world is Transparency International (TI). The TI 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index index rated Burma and Somalia as the most corrupt. The least corupt countries Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand. As with democracy, there is a general correlation between corruption and poverty.

Economic Opportunities

Educational Opportunities


The press, media, amd publishing is severely restricted throughout the Arab world. Actual regulations vary from country to country. The restrictions are most severe in Arab countries. Here satellite media like Algezira has made a difference, weakening government monopolies on the news. Even Algezira, however, commonly follows the standard Arab world outlook. They have engenered debate about social issues such a women's rights. Non-Arab countries tend to have somewhat freer media, but here there are are also variations from country to country. Another issue is the Muslim minorities in Western Europe. Most Europeans outside Russia tend to see the principle of free expression as one of the great achievements of Western civilization. Muslims in Europe tend to be less committed to free expression, especially as it applies to Islam and Muslim society. Mamy Muslims do not think that Islam or Mohammed should be subjected to criticism, serious or satyrical. The British have had to provide protection to Salaman Rushdie after Ayatolah Khomeini issued a fatwa on him (1989). Hence the reaction to the publication of cartoons in Denmark. Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh has his throat slit for directing a documentary that questioned Muslim treatment of women. Some in Europe today seem to believe that the pronciple of free expression should be comprissed to avoid trouble with Muslim countries and their own Muslim minorities. Many Muslims came to Europe seeking the kind of economic opportunity that their own countries failrd to offer. Now Muslim activists seem to be advocating the kind of constrints that have helped to keep their homelands backward .

Health Care

Independent Judiciary

Political Rights

Religious Freedom

Sexual Orientation

Of all the great religious traditions, Islam treats homosexuality particularly harshly. This is somewhat difficult to explain. The Koran presents homosexuality has sinful, but does not suggest draconian punishments. The Koran also contains homoerotic passages about boys, a inexpicable presentation if homosexuality is indeed evil. While the Koran seems confused, Mohammed is much more definitive in the Hadith in condeming homosexuality. As a result, homosexuality is considered a crime throughout the Muslim world and in some countries isa capital offense.

Women's Rights

The women's movements is largely one that came to fruition in the 20th century, primarily in the West. Women in the West have largely achieved equal legal and political rights, although there are still economic differences. The situation in the rest of the world is more varied. A major factor here is religion, especially Islam. Hinduism and Buddhism present no major barriers to women's rights and both religions generally accept secular lehal systems which promote equal rights. Islam is different. The Koran and Islamic tradition mandate fundamental differences in the treatment of man and women. As the Koran is seen as the perfect world of God, these differences are deeply embeded in social mores and law throughout the Muslim world.


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Created: 7:24 PM 9/27/2007
Last updated: 7:24 PM 9/27/2007