Aslı Bâli, UCLA professor of law and director of the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, is the co-editor of the new volume "Constitution Writing, Religion and Democracy" (Cambridge University Press), which explores the ways drafters in 14 different countries addressed religious conflicts when writing constitutions. The book spans the period from the 1800s through the post–Arab uprisings and examines countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
"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, who co-edited the book with Hanna Lerner, senior lecturer in the department of political science at Tel Aviv University. "One of the major contributions of the book is that it highlights lessons in constitutional design drawn from under-studied 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."
Bâli and Lerner co-wrote the chapter, "Designing Constitutions in Religiously Divided Societies."