Strasbourg Observers

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  • Guest Blogger

ECJ headscarf series (3): The Everyday Troubles of Pluralism

September 12, 2016

By Matthias Mahlmann, University of Zürich Differences and Common Ground This is legal deliberation with an edge: the two Opinions of Advocate General Kokott in the case of Achbita (C-157/15) and of Advocate General Sharpston in the case of Bougnaoui (C-188/15) come to opposing results though dealing with cases that are, in many respects, very […]

  • Guest Blogger

ECJ headscarf series (2): the role of choice; and the margin of appreciation

September 08, 2016

By Lucy Vickers, Oxford Brookes University In this post, I focus on two issues of note regarding the divergent reasoning of the Advocates General. The first is the question of whether or not religion is immutable, and whether the answer to that question is helpful in determining the extent to which religion should be protected […]

  • Eva Brems

Headscarves in Luxembourg – A blog series on the contrasting Opinions of AG Kokott and AG Sharpston

September 07, 2016

By Eva Brems The Kokott-Sharpston Standoff at the Threshold to the Summer of Shame In France and Belgium, the summer of 2016 will be remembered as the summer of the burkini debates. Numerous French municipalities banned Islamic swimgear that covers the body, and in Belgium, majority politicians called for a similar ‘burkini’ ban. The world […]

  • Guest Blogger

Grand Chamber Judgment in Izzettin Doğan and Others v. Turkey: More Than a Typical Religious Discrimination Case

July 18, 2016

This guest post was written by Dr. Mine Yildirim (*) On 26 April 2016, the Grand Chamber held, by 12 votes to 5, that there had been a violation of Article 9 ECHR, and, by 16 votes to 1, that there had been a violation of Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 9 ECHR […]

  • Eva Brems

Face veils in Strasbourg (bis): the Belgian cases

December 28, 2015

By Eva Brems In the Grand Chamber judgment of SAS v France (2014) the European Court of Human Rights held that France’s ban on face covering in public could be justified under article 9 ECHR as a proportionate measure for the aim of guaranteeing ‘le vivre ensemble’ (living together). Given the storm of protest that […]

  • Eva Brems

Ebrahimian v France: headscarf ban upheld for entire public sector

November 27, 2015

By Eva Brems On 26 November, the Court added a new chapter to its ‘headscarf’ jurisprudence, upholding the non-renewal of a contract in a public hospital on the ground of the applicant’s refusal to take off her headscarf. The case in brief 15 years ago, in December 2000, the applicant, who had been working for […]

  • Guest Blogger

New ECSR decision on conscience-based refusals protects women’s right to access abortion

August 04, 2015

Guest post by Katrine Thomasen, Legal Adviser for Europe, Center for Reproductive Rights. The Center for Reproductive Rights together with the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) submitted joint observations to the ECSR regarding the complaint. The European Committee of Social Rights (Committee) recently rejected a complaint filed by the Federation of Catholic Families in […]

  • Lourdes Peroni

Karaahmed v. Bulgaria: The (In)Visible Racial and Religious Motivation of Violence

March 27, 2015

By Lourdes Peroni Karaahmed v. Bulgaria, a case recently decided at Strasbourg, concerned incidents arising from a demonstration by followers of “Ataka,” a political party known for its views against Islam and its adherents. The place of the demonstration: in front of the Banya Bashi Mosque in Sofia. The time: during Friday prayers. The manner: […]

  • Saïla Ouald Chaib

Religious signs in public schools: Belgian Council of State shows judicial bravery

November 04, 2014

Co-authored by Yousra Benfquih* and Saïla Ouald Chaib** As in many other countries in Europe, the wearing of religious signs has been the topic of heated debate in Belgium. This has been the case for public servants, teachers, employees in private firms and the wearing of religious signs by pupils in school. It is the […]

  • Guest Blogger

Mansur Yalçın v. Turkey: religious education and the (easy) way out

October 10, 2014

This guest post was written by Yousra Benfquih, FWO aspirant, PhD Fellow Research Foundation Flanders at the University of Antwerp. In the case of Mansur Yalçın v. Turkey, 14 Turkish nationals living in Istanbul who are adherents of the Alevi faith, complained before the Court that the way in which the religion and ethics class […]

  • Eva Brems

S.A.S. v. France as a problematic precedent

July 09, 2014

As this blog already features an excellent post on SAS v France, this is a brief contribution, with a specific focus, namely SAS v France as a problematic precedent beyond the issue of the face veil and even beyond religious freedom cases. I shall focus on two problematic aspects of the judgment: its acceptance of […]

  • Saïla Ouald Chaib

S.A.S. v. France: Missed Opportunity to Do Full Justice to Women Wearing a Face Veil

July 03, 2014

By Saïla Ouald Chaib and Lourdes Peroni This week, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights published its long-expected judgment in S.A.S. v. France. The case concerns a ban on the wearing of face veils in the public space. Although the outcome of such highly debated cases is always unpredictable, we hoped […]

  • Weichie

Fernández Martínez v. Spain: The Grand Chamber Putting the Brakes on the ‘Ministerial Exception’ for Europe?

June 23, 2014

Recently, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights delivered its eagerly awaited judgment in Fernández Martínez v. Spain. The case concerned the refusal to renew the contract of a teacher of Catholic religion and ethics in a public secondary school, because he had allegedly caused a “scandal” when his situation of ‘married […]

  • Guest Blogger

A missed opportunity: how the Court’s judgment is commendable for seeking to protect religious minorities but nevertheless wide of the mark

May 19, 2014

This guest post was written by Lieselot Verdonck. Lieselot is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Human Rights Centre, Faculty of Law of Ghent University. More information on the author can be found here. The relationship between State and Church has always drawn much interest. It constitutes an inherently sensitive and political issue, which touches upon […]

  • Saïla Ouald Chaib

In the Footsteps of Jakóbski v. Poland but Adding Obstacles to the Road: Vartic v. Romania

February 06, 2014

When it comes to the accommodation of religious dietary requirements of detainees, it is clear that the European Court of Human Rights is adopting an inclusive approach. The case of Jakóbski v. Poland (2010) was considered a landmark case in this sense and the recent case of Vartic v. Romania proves that this assumption was […]

  • Saïla Ouald Chaib

S.A.S. v. France: A short summary of an interesting hearing

November 29, 2013

On Wednesday, our research team attended the Grand Chamber hearing at the European Court of Human Rights in the case of S.A.S. v. France, in which we submitted a third party intervention on behalf of the Ghent University Human Rights Centre. The case concerns the French law banning the face veil, a highly debated piece […]

  • Saïla Ouald Chaib

Mann Singh wins turban case in Geneva after losing in Strasbourg

November 19, 2013

The name Mann Singh will probably ring a bell with those who are familiar with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. In Mann Singh v. France (ECHR, 13/11/2008/, no 4479/07), the Strasbourg Court was confronted with the question whether the French obligation to appear bareheaded on photographs on identity documents was […]

  • Saïla Ouald Chaib

New Publication: “Doing Minority Justice Through Procedural Fairness: Face Veil Bans in Europe”

May 15, 2013

Eva Brems and I are happy to announce the publication of our article entitled “Doing Minority Justice Through Procedural Fairness: Face Veil Bans in Europe” in the Journal of Muslims in Europe. In this article we examine the bans on face veils (better known as ‘Burqa bans’) from a procedural justice perspective. This piece also […]

  • Lourdes Peroni

“Very Weighty Reasons” for Religion: Vojnity v. Hungary

February 27, 2013

It looks like freedom-of-religion season has arrived in Strasbourg. After leaving aside the “freedom to resign” doctrine in Eweida, the Court has just made another move towards greater recognition of the importance of freedom of religion. In Vojnity v. Hungary, the Court clearly recognizes religion as a “suspect” ground of differentiation. As a result – […]

  • Saïla Ouald Chaib

Freedom of Religion in Public Schools: Strasbourg Court v. UN Human Rights Committee

February 14, 2013

In a recent decision, the Human Rights Committee of the UN found a violation of the right to freedom of religion in a case concerning the famous and highly debated French law of 2004 that prohibits the wearing of religious garment in public schools. Accordingly the UN Committee called upon France to revisit its legislation. […]

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