Policy Briefs

The Place of Religion and Belief in Public Spaces across the EU: Policy Dilemmas and Recommendations on Religious Symbols and Dress Codes

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Author(s): 
Silvio Ferrari (Università degli Studi di Milano)
Publication: 
RELIGARE Policy Brief
Abstract: 

The presence of religions in the European legal systems is increasingly challenged by demographic developments. Two developments are particularly significant in this respect, as shown by the statistical data collected by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and a special Eurobarometer poll of 2010:

 

a) A growing number of Europeans (more than 20% of the population of the EU Member States) do not view themselves as belonging to any religion and often question the support offered by the state to religious communities.

 

b) A similarly increasing share of the population professes religions that are not considered traditional in Europe (for example Islam, which according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life is followed by almost 3% of the population in EU Member States) and which are still generally excluded from various forms of support reserved by the states for ‘majority’ religions.

 

While those who do not profess any religion suggest reducing the presence of religious communities in the public space, by contrast those who profess non-traditional religions argue in favour of this presence provided that they can enjoy the same advantages as those hitherto reserved to mainstream religions. The first group is more likely to support a neutral public space, without any religious connotation, whereas the latter tends to be in favour of a plural public space that is inclusive of different religions. Traditional religions for their part have reasons to oppose both the neutrality and the plurality of the public space because, in the first case, the religion would be in danger of being confined to the private sphere and, in the second, they run the risk of losing their dominant position.

 

For all these reasons a complex and lively debate about the place of religions and beliefs in the public space is taking place across Europe. In this policy brief, after presenting the main policy models one can encounter in contemporary Europe when it comes to the governance of religious diversity, we move on to discuss religious symbols in the public space.

Religion, Family and the Law - Innovative Approaches to Law and Policy

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Author(s): 
Mathias Rohe, (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Centre for Islam and Law in Europe)
Publication: 
RELIGARE Policy Brief
Abstract: 

This policy brief examines the intersections between religious diversity, family law and free movement. It asks how policymakers and practitioners should address issues affecting religious minorities in the field of family law, particularly where the legal status accorded (or not) to family situations creates tensions with human rights and EU fundamental freedoms such as free movement. The brief identifies areas of tension revealed by case law and advances recommendations for policymakers.
 

A comparative legal study addressing religious or belief discrimination in employment and reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious or philosophical beliefs or practice

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Author(s): 
Katayoun Alidadi
Publication: 
RELIGARE Policy Brief
Abstract: 

Challenges with the position of Islam have been most visible, prompting a number of states to adopt restrictive measures on religious dress, family life and places of worship.

Issues related to religion and belief have become increasingly topical in Europe’s workplaces, illustrating that the idea that religion or belief should remain confined to the private lives of individuals is untenable in present day Europe.

Cases from across Europe illustrate how some religious practices, beliefs and identities pervade various or all aspects of individual lives and that religion or belief is important to employees and employers in the workplace. The available European and national case law and sociological data show that tensions and conflicts have arisen with regard to religious dress and grooming requirements, opportunities to take time-off for employees to observe religious holidays and other practices and certain job tasks and conditions that run counter to some religious or philosophical rules and practices. These issues have arisen in both private and public sector employment.

This policy brief relates to both sectors of employment, but does not address in particular the case of churches and public or private organisations whose ethos is based on religion or belief.

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