Strasbourg Observers

Ghent seminar on empirical face veil research (May 9)

April 26, 2012

The European Court of Human Rights has recently communicated the case of S.A.S. v. France, concerning a French woman challenging the French ban on face coverings. She alleges a violation of several Convention rights amongst which her freedom of religion, her right to private life and her right not to be discriminated against. This case will surely be intensively followed throughout Europe, as the debate on the so-called burqa bans is raging. Therefore, we thought that readers of this blog might be interested to know that we (the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University) are organizing a seminar on empirical research on face veils.

On the 9th of May, an international expert seminar on the face veil will be organized at Ghent University. At this event, several experts will present their empirical research concerning women wearing the face veil in several European countries, such as France and the UK. A team of researchers led by Professor Eva Brems will present the results of the first-of-its-kind Belgian research. This team has interviewed 27 women wearing the face veil, or who have worn it in the past. The aim of the research was to learn more about the women’s motivations, their daily life experiences and their confrontations with the authorities, and the possible consequences a prohibition on face coverings would have on them. At the seminar, these presentations will be followed by a critical analysis of the possible consequences of legislation banning face coverings, or the so-called burqa bans.

The importance of this kind of research cannot be underestimated. At the time the French and the Belgian legislation banning face coverings was adopted, no empirical knowledge was available yet. Legislators adopted laws based on assumptions and speculations. Today however, when more and more women are attacking the face veil banning legislation in courts, like in S.A.S. v. France and before the Belgian Constitutional Court (see also the post  ‘Belgium votes burqa ban‘ by Eva Brems), empirical data is available and Courts can only benefit from this insider perspective.

For more information about the seminar see

Registration deadline: 4 May 2012

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1 Comment

  • Marie123 says:

    I have a question on this case of SAS v France. Since there is not a lot information available I only understood that an official request is hand in and the French State is informed. But does this already mean the case has passed the admissibility test and is declared admissible ?