Manual on Hate Speech

The right to freedom of expression entails duties and responsibilities and is subject to certain limits, provided for in Article 10.2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which are concerned, among other things, with protecting the rights of others. Identifying what constitutes “hate speech” is especially difficult because this type of speech does not necessarily involve the expression of hatred or feelings.

On the basis of all the applicable texts on freedom of expression and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and other bodies, the author identifies certain parameters that make it possible to distinguish expressions which, although sometimes insulting, are fully protected by the right to freedom of expression from those which do not enjoy that protection.

Manual on the wearing of religious symbols in public areas

To address the issues surrounding the wearing of religious symbols in public areas, this manual explores how the European Convention on Human Rights relates to the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; identifies key concepts found in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights; and examines the role and responsibilities of both states and citizens.

The author then explores underlying motivations for wearing religious symbols, and the visibility of religions and beliefs in the public sphere. Essential questions policy makers should address with regards to this issue are then posed.

The manual seeks then to apply these principles and approaches to a number of key areas such as state employment, schools and universities, the private sector and the criminal justice system.

The European Court of Human Rights rejects complaints against France

The European Court of Human Rights has thrown out the human rights complaints of French parents who deemed it wrong their children were excluded from public schools because of their conspicuous religious signs (i.e. their hijabs and turbans). Instead, the European Court claimed that that it supported the law for it seeks to protect children from exclusion and does not view the March 2004 law as a hindrance of religious rights.

Belgian court upholds school’s decision to ban headscarves

The Council of State, Belgium’s top administrative court, ruled that schools may ban girls from wearing the Muslim headscarf or hijab. The court argued that a ban on the garment is not discriminatory, but rather, reinforced principals of equality and solidarity.

While the ruling does not argue for a mandatory ban, it gives Belgian schools to take the decision into their own hands. The Movement against Racism, anti-Semitism, and Xenophobia, a prominent civil rights group, slammed the ruling as “ideological, factious, and anti-democratic.” It added that it was considering appealing the ruling to either the European Court of Human Rights, or the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Sikh man loses right to wear turban in driving license photo after EU court ruling

A Sikh man who wanted the right to wear a turban while being photographed for his French drivers’ licence has lost his case in the European Court of Human Rights.

Shingara Mann Singh, a French national, lost a series of appeals in France against the authorities who refused to issue a new license with a photograph of him wearing a turban.

Under French regulations, motorists must appear ‘bareheaded and facing forward’ in their license photographs, but the Sikh religion requires men to wear a turban at all times.

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Denmark: Muslims Take Prophet Cartoons to EU Court

Danish Muslims are planning to take the Jyllands-Posten daily newspaper of Denmark, to Europe’s highest rights court over the publication of satirical caricatures of the prophet Muhammad. The move to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights comes one day after a Danish court rejected a lawsuit by seven Muslims against the newspaper’s editors for publishing the offensive cartoons. Danish Muslim leaders described the Danish court’s decision as disappointing, but have hope that the European rights court will give the case more attention.

UK to extradite radical cleric to US

Britain intends to extradite jailed Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri to the United States to face terrorism charges, the Home Office said. The interior ministry made the announcement on Thursday after Home Secretary Jacqui Smith signed an extradition order. Hamza’s lawyer, Muddassar Arani, said an appeal would be filed because “there are some very serious issues that need to be considered”. If Hamza’s initial appeal is unsuccessful, he could file further appeals with the House of Lords, Britain’s highest court of law and, were it denied there, finally to the European Court of Justice or European Court of Human Rights, depending on the section of law he decided to contest. A Home Office spokeswoman said the process could take several months. Washington claims Hamza, 49, was part of a global plot to wage holy war or jihad against Western countries – he applauded the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, 2001 – and US authorities want him to stand trial over the 1998 abduction of 16 Western tourists in Yemen. Four of the hostages, three Britons and an Australian, were killed when Yemeni troops stormed the militants’ hide-out.

A French Sikh Refuses to Remove Turban for Drivers License Head Shot

By St_phanie Le Bars The United Sikh Association, which represents the Sikh community in France, has announced, Monday, June 11, its intentions to file a plea in the European Court of the Rights of Men against the French law to achieve religious freedom. The lawyers of the Association, active in many European countries, are defending the case of a 52 year-old French Sikh who authorities refused to grant a drivers license without the removal of his turban for the license photo. According to Sikh tradition, men do not cut their hair and wear it wrapped in a large turban on the head.

British Court Rules Against Muslim Girl

Britain’s highest court ruled Wednesday that a school acted properly in refusing to allow a student to wear Muslim clothing of her choice rather than the attire permitted under school policy. Shabina Begum, now 17, last year won a Court of Appeal ruling establishing that Denbigh High School in Luton infringed on her rights by not allowing her to wear a jilbab – a long, flowing gown that covers her entire body except for her face and hands. The school, where four-fifths of the students are Muslim, allows students to wear trousers, skirts or a traditional shalwar kameez, which consists of trousers and a tunic. Girls were allowed to wear head scarves. The school, which appealed its case to the Law Lords, Britain’s highest court, argued that the jilbab posed a health and safety risk and might cause divisions among pupils, with those wearing traditional dress possibly being seen as better Muslims. Lord Justice Bingham said in the 5-0 ruling Wednesday that the school “had taken immense pains to devise a uniform policy which respected Muslim beliefs but did so in an inclusive, unthreatening and uncompetitive way.” “The rules laid down were as far from being mindless as uniform rules could ever be. The school had enjoyed a period of harmony and success to which the uniform policy was thought to contribute,” Bingham said. He noted that the head teacher at the school at the time was a Muslim, and the rules were acceptable to mainstream Muslims. Begum was sent home from school in September 2002 for wearing the jilbab. “We’re not sure if we’re going to take it to the European Court or not,” Begum told Sky News. “I think I have made my point at this stage,” she said, adding that she hoped the case encouraged others to “speak out.” Lord Hoffmann said Begum could have moved to a single-sex school where her religion did not require a jilbab or a school where she was allowed to wear one. “Instead, she and her brother decided that it was the school’s problem. They sought a confrontation and claimed that she had a right to attend the school of her own choosing in the clothes she chose to wear,” Hoffmann wrote. Lord Nicholls, while joining in ruling for the school, said he believed the court may have underestimated the difficulty she would have faced in changing schools.