Beyond the Veil

A Critical Analysis of Sharia Law in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia


  • Marie Alix Depuydt McGill University



This article critically analyzes the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI) and its relationship with the widely recognized Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which guarantees and protects human rights for all regardless of gender, social and economic situations. Adopted by 45 Islamic states in 1990, the CDHRI is often portrayed as complementing the UDHR but is rooted in Sharia Law, leading to tensions between universal and cultural relativist perspectives on human rights. By using Saudi Arabia and Indonesia as case studies to illustrate the various manners the Sharia Law is implemented, this paper illustrates how the law in these countries amplifies social, physical, and structural violence specifically against gender and religious minorities, namely Shia. This highlights the immense disparities between international human rights norms and state-centric patriarchal norms. Additionally, by analyzing the legal frameworks of these states, specifically the Aceh region in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia as a whole, this article emphasizes the complex interplay between universalistic ideals and cultural relativism, emphasizing the need for a nuanced understanding of human rights in diverse cultural contexts.


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