Ronan McCrea (University College London) has posted The Ban on the Veil and European Law. The abstract follows. NB: The full text is behind a paywall.
This article argues that the fate of veil bans under European law is uncertain. It shows that European commitments to free speech and freedom of religion cannot accommodate an absolute ban justified solely on grounds of the offensiveness of the veil. However, a ban that applies to public face-covering in general (rather than a ban that only targets the veil), that relates to the specific (though admittedly broad) context of social life and that provides some exceptions allowing the veil to be worn in specific religious or expressive contexts, has a reasonable chance of being upheld by European courts despite the significant infringement of personal autonomy it would involve.
This December, Edward Elgar Publishing will publish Religion, Rights and Secular Society: European Perspectives edited by Peter Cumper (University of Leicester, UK) and Tom Lewis (Nottingham Trent University, UK). The publisher’s description follows.
This topical collection of chapters examines secular society and the legal protection of religion and belief across Europe, both in general and more nation-specific terms.
The expectations of many that religion in modern Europe would be swept away by the powerful current of secularization have not been realised, and today few topics generate more controversy than the complex relationship between religious and secular values. The ‘religious/secular’ relationship is examined in this book, which brings together scholars from different parts of Europe and beyond to provide insights into the methods by which religion and equivalent beliefs have been, and continue to be, protected in the legal systems and constitutions of European nations. The contributors’ chapters reveal that the oft-tumultuous legacy of Europe’s relationship with religion still resonates across a continent where legal, political and social contours have been powerfully shaped by faith and religious difference.
Covering recent controversies such as the Islamic headscarf, and the presence of the crucifix in school class-rooms, this book will appeal to academics and students in law, human rights and the social sciences, as well as law and policy makers and NGOs in the field of human rights.
Silvio Ferrari (U. of Milan) has posted Law and Religion in a Secular World: A European Perspective. The abstract follows.
This article examines two interpretations of the process of secularisation that can be traced back through European legal and political thought, and a more recent trend that challenges both of them. It does this through the prism of the public sphere, because in today’s Europe one of the most debated issues is the place and role of religion in this sphere, understood as the space where decisions concerning questions of general interest are discussed. The article concludes, first, that the paradigm through which relations between the secular and the religious have been interpreted is shifting and, second, that this change is going to have an impact on the notion of religious freedom and, consequently, on the recognised position of religions in the public sphere.
Next month, Cambridge University Press will publish Islamic Societies to the Nineteenth Century: A Global History by Ira M. Lapidus (University of California, Berkeley). The publisher’s description follows.
Ira Lapidus’ global history of Islamic societies, first published in 1988, has become a classic in the field. For over two decades, it has enlightened students, scholars, and others with a thirst for knowledge about one of the world’s great civilizations. This book is based on parts one and two of Lapidus’ monumental A History of Islamic Societies, revised and updated, describes the transformations of Islamic societies from their beginning in the seventh century, through their diffusion across the globe, into the challenges of the nineteenth century. The story focuses on the organization of families and tribes, religious groups and states, depicts them in their varied and changing contexts, and shows how they were transformed by their interactions with other religious and political communities into a varied, global and interconnected family of societies. The book concludes with the European commercial and imperial interventions that initiated a new set of transformations in the Islamic world, and the onset of the modern era. Organized in narrative sections for the history of each major region, with innovative, analytic summary introductions and conclusions, this book is a unique endeavor. Its breadth, clarity, style, and thoughtful exposition will ensure its place in the classroom and beyond as a guide for the educated reader.
Last month, Cambridge University Press published Law, State and Religion in the New Europe: Debates and Dilemmas (Cambridge March 2012) by Lorenzo Zucca (King’s College London). The publisher’s description follows.
As the new Europe takes shape, debates which had been confined to its constitutional structure are spilling over into more general areas, not least the field of law and religion. In this edited collection a team of experts seek to establish whether religion and the ‘new’ Europe are in conflict. The collection looks at the question from two perspectives. Initially it considers the question from the perspective of the most influential schools of political thought. The second approach is to look at the theory and operation of the European human rights, with concluding remarks by Joseph Weiler. This title will be of interest to scholars of European constitutional and human rights law, as well as legal theorists. It will appeal to scholars in the field of law and religion.
Prakash Shah (Queen Mary, University of London School of Law) has posted In Pursuit of the Pagans: Muslim Law in the English Context. The abstract follows.
In this Working Paper, I make the case that a reconfiguration of law is taking place in the contact between Western and Muslim law. Muslim law is itself a complex, pluralistic amalgam of different legal ‘bricks’, and in the context of the struggle for Islam to be acknowledged as a legitimate source of value pluralism in the Western context, the religious aspects of Muslim law, with their doctrinal justifications, are being foregrounded. With the English case as the main focus, I further argue that customs among Muslims are suppressed in this process of ‘shariatisation’. Beyond that, even Muslim doctrines are being placed under the spotlight in various ways. These changes are taking place as a result of Muslims living as non-dominant communities in Europe, where they are under the gaze of the dominant culture and are judged to be potential or actual violators of human rights and the rule of law. Relying on Balagangadhara’s (2005) explanation of the ‘dynamic of religion’, I present these processes as an outcome of the collision of two religious cultures, the Islamic and the Western.