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Reading: The march of the MehteranRethinking the human rights critiques of counter-terrorism


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The march of the Mehteran
Rethinking the human rights critiques of counter-terrorism


Can Öztaş


Since 9/11 counter-terrorism laws adopted by Western democracies have been criticised intensively, producing a large body of theoretical and practical analysis. However, the material focusing on these issues through the lens of racism is limited. Thus the human rights critiques of counter-terrorism laws remain inadequate. One of the more obvious reasons for this gap in the literature is that the discriminatory dimension of counter-terrorism policies and laws and the subtle (sometimes institutional) racism involved is not adequately considered. Another reason is related to the dilemmatic role of human rights. Since early modernity the legal system and the values of Europe/the West is imposed on the 'other'. Previously this was done through colonialism and empire building; today, it is realised through the liberal capitalist economic system heralding democratic government based on 'universal' human rights. Like before, the 'other' resist this imposition (along with the democratic system based on human rights), through a vaguely defined term - 'terrorism'. In reaction, counter-terrorism measures and laws, which are known to violate human rights, are enacted in defence of a system which defines itself through a commitment to human rights values. This paper intends to discuss the dual role of human rights, which criticise and affirm counter-terrorism measures.
How to Cite: Öztaş, C., 2011. The march of the Mehteran
Rethinking the human rights critiques of counter-terrorism. Utrecht Law Review, 7(2), pp.180–191. DOI:
Published on 14 Apr 2011.
Peer Reviewed


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