Hans-Martien ten Napel
Dr. H.M.Th.D. ten Napel is Associate Professor at Leiden UniversityProfile page
The state of Dutch democracy is uncertain. After last week’s elections, the stability of the political system appears guaranteed for the next couple of years. We cannot be sure, however, what will happen afterwards. This marks a change from the past.
Geert Wilders’ PVV Party believes that Islam is a totalitarian ideology and not a religion, and thus Muslims are not equally entitled to the same freedom of religion or belief as other believers. This view is incompatible with liberal democracy.
The individual dimension of religious freedom constitutes a foundation for the institutional dimension of the same right. Institutional religious autonomy is, in turn, foundational for the notion of limited government and as such for liberal democracy.
The European Parliament is often criticised as being weak compared to national parliaments. Yet, when viewed in a transnational context, it stands out as remarkably constitutionalized, although there is certainly room for further constitutionalization.
The presentation of the first annual report of the European Parliament Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief marked a historic occasion, with the EU and the US joining forces for the first time in the field of international religious freedom.
Just like by the ethically monistic character of certain theoretizations of Confucian democracy, expressive liberty is threatened by a Western ‘civic totalism’ that – as Galston puts it – ‘tacitly views public institutions as plenipotentiary’.