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Between Discrimination and Protection at the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Levels
State, Religion and Muslims: Between Discrimination and Protection at the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Levels brings together academics from different disciplines and offers an in-depth analysis of discrimination in specific areas of life which affects Muslims in Western countries. The volume undertakes a comprehensive examination of the discriminatory practices across 12 countries while situating them in their institutional frameworks.

Exploring critical aspects of discrimination against Muslims – in areas such as education, employment, exercise of religion, state relations with religious communities as well as hate crime and hate speech – the volume shows the prevalence of individual, structural and institutional discrimination against Muslims living in Western countries.

Contributors are: Amina Easat-Daas, Andrea Pin, Beesan Sarrouh, Camille Vallier, Dieter Schiendlauer, Eva Brems, Ineke van der Valk, Ksenija Šabec, Maja Pucelj, Mario Peucker, Mosa Sayed, Nesa Zimmermann, Niels Valdemar Vinding and Safa ben Saad.

Abstract

This chapter discusses anti-Muslim discrimination in a legal sense and anti-Muslim discourse or agitation with the aim of discovering the roots for some of these actions. It illustrates a high level of discrimination against Muslim in Austria -in a rule-of-law-state with a rather comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and a historically relaxed relationship with the organised Muslim faith-. The chapter demonstrates how Muslim in Austria struggling and oscillating between acceptance and efforts of non-discrimination on the one side and rejection and even hostility on the other.

In: State, Religion and Muslims

Abstract

The chapter discusses discrimination against Muslims in Belgium. First it sketches the background of the situation of Muslims in Belgium, including demographics, structure of government, state-religion relations and the status of Islam. This is followed by an analysis of discrimination at the Legislative, Executive and Judicial levels. The latter is subdivided in 5 sections, respectively addressing education, employment, the exercise of religion, state relations with religious communities, and hate crime and hate speech.

As an officially recognized religion, Islam enjoys significant benefits, the most notable of which are state subventions and the teaching of Islam in public primary and secondary schools. Yet at the same time, Belgium has extensive restrictions on Muslim religious practice, in particular women’s religious dress, and un-stunned religious slaughter.

Finally, there is the fact that Belgium is among the worst performers in Europe when it comes to education and employment of persons with a migration background, the group to which most Muslims in Belgium belong. This is a matter of structural discrimination, in the sense of lack of equal opportunities, that affects Muslims on account of a multiplicity of factors including class, ethnicity and religion.

In: State, Religion and Muslims

Abstract

After decades of political denial, Germany has come to recognise the fact that its society has become culturally, linguistically, ethnically and religiously diverse. Policymakers have started to respond to these social changes, but what remains lacking is a positive, coherent vision of how to manage ethno-religious diversity within the country’s prevalent integration paradigm and human rights based constitutional setting. The assimilationist nature of Germany’s governance of ethno-religious diversity is particularly salient in its response to the presence and claims-making of Muslim communities.

German legislature has remained reluctant to address the manifold barriers Muslims face with regard to their educational opportunities, employment and, most significantly, the practice of their faith – despite the constitutional protection of “freedom of faith” and the “undisturbed practice of religion”. In addition, Muslim communities continue to face major roadblocks in their struggle for institutional recognition.

Political passivity in conjunction with assimilationist interventions and restrictive administrative practices have often led to a situation where it has been up to the judiciary to balance constitutional principles with and political limitations of Muslims’ practice of their faith. As a result, and given Germany’s strong federal structures, the current legal and administrative landscape is highly inconsistent and varies considerably across the country.

In: State, Religion and Muslims

Abstract

The chapter discusses the situation related to discrimination and antidiscrimination of Muslims in the country. An overview is given of national and international anti-discrimination provisions guiding laws, policies, judicial decisions and practices in the Netherlands to combat discrimination. Focus of attention are the fields of employment, education, exercise of religion, state relations with Muslim communities and hate crime and hate speech.

Consecutive Dutch governments have gradually developed a detailed system of legislation, policies and related infrastructure in this area over the past fifty years. Both the Constitution, criminal law and administrative law contain instruments for combating discrimination. Instruments for self-regulation by sectors of industry and trade associations have also been devised. However many factors make the implementation of antidiscrimination legislation a complex issue. Therefor policies are devised for fine tuning dimensions of antidiscrimination that cannot be regulated by legislation alone. Moreover, there are formal shortcomings and complications when it comes to implementing the law. The author recommends that antidiscrimination policies and the protection of human rights should not only be a subject of specific legislation and policies but they should have a more prominent role in all areas of government policies.

In: State, Religion and Muslims

Abstract

This chapter investigates the question of discrimination of Muslims in the Danish context. This is considered across the branches of government, looking at political discourse and legislation, at ministerial administration and at the judiciary and quasi-judicial rulings. While both freedom of speech and freedom of religion are constitutionally guaranteed, and non-discrimination is protected across the branches of government, the current state of discourse on Muslims has the adverse effect of legitimising, condoning or even promoting discrimination of Muslims in Denmark. Analysing concrete cases across five major themes in discrimination against Muslims, the chapter finds a worrying tendency to explicitly legitimize and even normalize discrimination. National and international reports, studies and other sources all point to the particularly harsh and alienating discourse and debate on Muslims. Not only is discrimination against Muslims a challenge across all three branches of Danish government, but the perception of discrimination is particularly pertinent and little seems to be done by government to limit this. There is a political readiness and willingness to discriminate and to violate some of the foundational principles of both the constitution and Denmark’s international commitments, and government misses a number of important opportunities to right divisive wrongs in Danish society.

In: State, Religion and Muslims

Abstract

This Chapter reflects on the current treatment of Islam and on discriminatory practices that target Muslims in Italy. It focuses on the presence of Islam in the country, on its social perception and on its legal regime, and it contrasts the treatment of Islam with how the State and society have interacted with other religious denominations. It traces the birth and the development of the Muslim community in Italy, provides the constitutional framework within which Islam finds its place, and breaks down the policies of religious freedom for Muslims.

In: State, Religion and Muslims
In: State, Religion and Muslims

Abstract

The chapter focuses on the executive practices, legislative actions, policies, and judicial decisions regarding religious discrimination against Muslims. The first part explains the historical background of migration and the settlement of Muslims in Slovenian territory and their demographic structure. This is followed by an overview of the structure of the legislative, executive and judicial government in Slovenia; state-religion relations before and after Slovenia’s independence in 1991; and finally, the status of Islam. Methodologically, the chapter is primarily based on an analysis and critical interpretation of primary and secondary sources, among them, a study of annual reports of the Human Rights Ombudsman and a study of court decisions dealing with discrimination against Muslims. The second part of the chapter deals with the analysis of discrimination against Muslims, starting with a chronological examination of the main international and European documents relating to discrimination and ratified by Slovenia, followed by the presentation of Slovenian legislation and state institutions from the aforementioned areas. The authors conclude that the implementation of an otherwise exemplary formal legislative framework in Slovenia is proving to be problematic in different areas of integration, as well as in the field of discrimination, particularly in terms of so-called “soft” discrimination.

In: State, Religion and Muslims

Abstract

In the Canadian liberal and multiculturalist context, the state religious neutrality and the equal right to religious freedom define the relation between state and religions. Though minority religious practices and beliefs enjoy a protective legal system (Canadian charter of rights and freedoms). The Supreme court adopted an expansive definition of religion allowing easier religious accommodation (Syndicat Northcrest c. Amselem, 2004). Nevertheless, every new controversy on the Canadian secularism shows the limits of the legal protection of the religious beliefs and religious communities. During the last years, Islam and Muslims have been targeted. From the debate on the Quebec charter of values to bill 21, the divergence between the laws and the facts is clear. Protecting the Muslim community from hate speech, hate crimes and systemic racism, faces a debate on balancing rights and the protection of Canadian values. Islamic law mainly, could be seen as a challenge for the majoritarian ethic values. The example of religious mediation in Ontario is still interesting to illustrate the discomfort. The arguments against the establishment of what was called shari’a courts in Ontario, were more ethical than legal. The same arguments are used when it comes to Muslim women clothing (veil, niqab…).

In: State, Religion and Muslims