Strasbourg Observers

Announcement Grassrootsmobilise Conference and Public Event (Athens, 3-4 May)

April 06, 2018

On Friday 4 May 2018, the Grassrootsmobilise Programme organizes a conference “Between state and citizen: religion at the ECtHR”, preceded by a public event on Thursday 3 May on “Religion and Secularism: does the Court go too far – or not far enough?” Strasbourg Observer Prof. Dr. Eva Brems participates in the latter event.

This is the conference concept note:

The European public square has, in the last twenty-five years and increasingly so, been inundated with controversies and debates around the place of religion in the public sphere. Against this backdrop the European Court of Human Rights has emerged to add its own voice and, in so doing, it has significantly influenced the terms of the debates.

Greece has a special place in the religion-related jurisprudence of the ECtHR: the Kokkinakis v. Greece case (1993) was the first in which a violation of religious freedom (Art.9) was found, and nearly 20% of all such violations found amongst 47 states are against the state of Greece. The ECtHR drew grassroots level attention in Greece in 2009 when it ruled that religious symbols (such as icons) should be removed from public schools (Lautsi v. Italy, 2009, a decision later reversed after several countries, including Greece, intervened on the matter). It may again enter the Greek public scene through debate on reform of religious education in public schools, currently a volatile political issue and one on which the ECtHR has ruled extensively and decisively – only not (yet) in the Greek context.

This event brings together former ECtHR judges and scholars to debate the question of whether the Court has gone too far, or not far enough, in its interventions on religion-related matters. The event is organised under the auspices of the European Research Council-funded Grassrootsmobilise Research Programme led by Dr. Effie Fokas, and hosted by the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). This event precedes a day-long conference showcasing research results which, in turn, will be followed by the presentation of the book The Kokkinakis Papers: Taking Stock of 25 years of ECHR Jurisprudence on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Grassrootsmobilise is a research programme based at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), led by Dr. Effie Fokas. The programme studies grassroots level mobilisations ‘in the shadow’ of the European Court of Human Righs’ religious freedoms jurisprudence. You can find more information on the programme of the event on the Grassrootsmobilise website.

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