New Book: Religion in Public Spaces – A European Perspective

Religion in Public Spaces: A European Perspective

Ashgate, September 2012

Edited by Silvio Ferrari and Sabrina Pastorelli, both at The University of Milan, Italy Series : Cultural Diversity and Law in Association with RELIGARE

This timely volume discusses the much debated and controversial subject of the presence of religion in the public sphere. The book is divided in three sections. In the first the public/private distinction is studied mainly from a theoretical point of view, through the contributions of lawyers, philosophers and sociologists. In the following sections their proposals are tested through the analysis of two case studies, religious dress codes and places of worship. These sections include discussions on some of the most controversial recent cases from around Europe with contributions from some of the leading experts in the area of law and religion.

Covering a range of very different European countries including Turkey, the UK, Italy and Bulgaria, the book uses comparative case studies to illustrate how practice varies significantly even within Europe. It reveals how familiarization with religious and philosophical diversity in Europe should lead to the modification of legal frameworks historically designed to accommodate majority religions. This in turn should give rise to recognition of new groups and communities and eventually, a more adequate response to the plurality of religions and beliefs in European society.

Contents: Religion and rethinking the public-private divide:
introduction, Marie-Claire Foblets; Part I Religions and the Public/Private Divide: Public and private, a moving border: a legal-historical perspective, Kjell Å. Modeer; Socio-historical perspectives on the public and private spheres, Adam Seligmann; The ‘public-private’ divide on drift: what, if any, is its importance for analysing limits of associational religious freedoms?, Veit Bader; Religious freedom and the public-private divide: a broken promise in Europe?, Alessandro Ferrari; The ‘public’ and the ‘private’ in the common law and civil law traditions and the regulation of religion, Jean-François Gaudreault-DesBiens and Noura Karazivan; Contested normative cultures. Gendered perspectives on religions and the public/private divide, Hanne Petersen; Religion in the European public
spaces: a legal overview, Silvio Ferrari. Part II Religion and the Dress
Codes: From front-office to back-office: religious dress crossing the public-private divide in the workplace, Katayoun Alidadi; Religious dress codes: the Turkish case, A. Emre Öktem and Mehmet C. Uzun; Religious dress codes in the United Kingdom, Javier Garcia Oliva; Religious dress codes: the Italian case, Sabrina Pastorelli; Religious dress codes: the Bulgarian case, Maya Kosseva and Iva Kyurkchieva; Comparing burqa debates in Europe: sartorial styles, religious prescriptions and political ideologies, Sara Silvestri. Part III Religion and the Places of Worship: The right to establish and maintain places of worship: the developments of its normative content under international human rights law, Noel G. Villaroman; The places of worship in France and the public/private divide, Anne Fornerod; ‘Stopp Minarett’? The controversy over the building of minarets in Switzerland:
religious freedom versus collective identity, Vincenzo Pacillo; Places of worship: between public and private: a comparison between Bulgaria, Italy and the Netherlands, Tymen J. van der Ploeg; Index.

About the Editor: Silvio Ferrari is Professor of Canon Law, University of Milan and President, International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies, Italy. His research interests are in the areas of Church and State in Europe; Comparative law of religions, and Vatican-Israel relations. He has published widely on these and related areas.

Sabrina Pastorelli is research fellow at the Institute of International Law – section of Ecclesiastical and Canon Law – University of Milan, Faculty of Law. She is also a member of the Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités (GSRL-CNRS/École Pratique des Hautes Études-Sorbonne) and teaching assistant at the Catholic University of Paris – Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences. Her research interests include sociology of religion; new religious movements; law and religion in Europe; religious education; regulation of religious pluralism; state public policy and religion. She is a member of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (ISSR); the Association for Sociology of Religion (ASR); the Italian Sociological Association (AIS).

Reviews: ‘This book offers more than its title promises. It is not only about Europe or about religion. Insightful, suggestive and as diverse as its contributors, it contains a persuasive reflection on the need to rethink the very notion of public space that Western democracies have used since the nineteenth century.’
Javier Martinez-Torron, Complutense University School of Law, Spain

‘This is a highly important book in a remarkable controversy. Silvio Ferrari and Sabrina Pastorelli present a rich volume full of information, thought, and insight – presenting masterpieces of interdisciplinary research and political guidance. The book is a most valuable contribution to freedom and equality throughout Europe.’
Gerhard Robbers, University of Trier, Germany

French Senate Votes Overwhelmingly to Ban Face Veils in Public Spaces

News Agencies – September 14, 2010
The French Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill banning full-facial coverings in public. Leaders of both parliamentary houses said they have asked a special council to first ensure the measure passes constitutional muster amid concerns its tramples on religious freedoms. The Senate voted 246 to 1 in favour of the bill, which has already passed in the lower chamber, the National Assembly. It will need President Nicolas Sarkozy’s signature.
“This law was the object of long and complex debates,” the Senate president, Gerard Larcher, and National Assembly head Bernard Accoyer said in a joint statement explaining their move. They said in a joint statement that they want to be sure there is “no uncertainty” about it conforming to the constitution. The measure affects approximately 2,000 women.
France would be the first European country to pass such a law though others, notably neighbouring Belgium, are considering laws against face-covering veils, seen as anathema to the local culture. The bill calls for 150 euro fines or citizenship classes for any woman caught covering her face, or both. It also carries stiff penalties for anyone such as husbands or brothers convicted of forcing the veil on a woman. The 30,000 euro fine and year in prison are doubled if the victim is a minor. It remains unclear how authorities planned to enforce such a law.

French Members of Parliament Vote to ban Islam Full Headscarf in Public Spaces

France’s lower house of parliament has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would ban wearing the Islamic full veil in public. There were 335 votes for the bill and only one against in the 557-seat National Assembly. It must now be ratified by the Senate in September to become law.

Many of the opposition Socialists, who originally wanted the ban limited only to public buildings, abstained from voting after coming under pressure from feminist supporters of the bill. President Nicolas Sarkozy has backed the ban as part of a wider debate on French identity but critics say the government is pandering to far-right voters. After the vote, Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said it was a victory for democracy and for French values.

The bill would make it illegal to wear garments such as the niqab or burqa, which incorporate a full-face veil, anywhere in public. It envisages fines of 150 euros for women who break the law and 30,000 euros and a one-year jail term for men who force their wives to wear the burqa.

Mohammed Moussaoui, the head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, a government advisory body, has supported taking steps to discourage women from wearing the full veil but has said a legal ban would stigmatise a vulnerable group.

Philippe de Villiers : “Prohibit the Veil in all Public Spaces”

The president of the Movement for France, Phillippe de Villiers, presents himself as “the last defender of the Rebublic against communitarianism”. Le Figaro interviewed de Villiers on November 2, 2006, and in that interview de Villiers called for the prohibition of the veil in all public spaces in France. De Villiers called Islamism “an empirical problem” that “it is impossible to ignore.” In response to this “Islamic problem”, he proposed that France “impose her values”, in particular by prohibiting the Islamic veil in the streets or in public buildings. He called for this on the grounds that “the islamic veil is the symbol of female submission and wearing it detracts from her dignity.” In addition, de Villiers asserted that the veil was an obstacle to “the appearance of national community” and an tool used by the activits who “attack the foundations of the Rebublic.” De Villiers cited an August 2006 study from the Pew Research Center that reported that 46% of French Muslims saw their loyalty to Islam as greater than their loyalty to France. This, he claimed, was an obvious political problem. “I am only saying what the French citizens are already thinking,” de Villiers averred. “This will be an essential question for the 2007 presidential election: I am the only one to break the taboo, and the last defender of the Republic against [Islamist] communitarianism.”

Politics of Visibility: Young Muslims in European Public Spaces

This book takes into view a large variety of Muslim actors who, in recent years, made their entry into the European public sphere. Without excluding the phenomenon of terrorists, it maps the whole field of Muslim visibility. The nine contributions present unpublished ethnographic materials that have been collected between 2003 and 2005. They track down the available space that is open to Muslims in EU member states claiming a visibility of their own. The volume collects male and female, secular and religious, radical and pietistic voices of sometimes very young people. They all speak about “being a Muslim in Europe” and the meaning of “real Islam”.