Aslı Bâli, UCLA professor of law and director of the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, has co-edited a book with Hanna Lerner, senior lecturer in the department of political science at Tel Aviv University, that was recently released by Cambridge University Press. Their new book, “Constitution Writing, Religion and Democracy,” explores how constitutional drafters have addressed religious conflicts in 14 different countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East over an historical period beginning in the 1800s through the post–Arab uprisings.
“The book adopts a comparative frame to advance our understanding of the role played by constitutions in mitigating religious tensions in democratic or democratizing settings,” says Bâli. “One of the major contributions of the book is that it highlights lessons in constitutional design drawn from understudied cases of religiously divided societies.
“The challenges that such societies confront are thorny,” she adds, “and revolve around issues such as the definition of national identity or the role of religious law – questions that are rarely addressed in a scholarly literature influenced by American and French constitutional ideas.”