Prohibition of the Burka: Tussle Between the UN and the ECHR

Nov 7, 2018 by

from the European Centre for Law and Justice:

While the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had approved the ban of the niqab, the UN Human Rights Committee has ruled in favor of two Muslim women accusing France of violating their right to religious freedom. The “experts” of Geneva yesterday asked France to “review” its legislation “in the light of its obligations under the [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights]”.1

The Committee leaves 180 days to France to give effect to its findings: during this period, the ECLJ will act both with the French authorities and experts from Geneva to promote the maintenance of the law of 2010 prohibiting the concealment of one’s face in the public space.

This is not the first time that the ECHR and the Committee reveal their deep disagreement on the wearing of religious symbols and clothing. A “tussle” between these two bodies for the protection of human rights had already taken place about the French law of 2004 prohibiting visible religious symbols in public schools. In its recent findings on the Baby Loup crèche case, the Human Rights Committee had even denied the authority of the Strasbourg judges, expressly disregarding their appreciation of the meaning of the Islamic veil.2

Why this complaisance of the Geneva Committee towards the visible manifestations of Islam? In reality, it is subjected to strong religious pressures. In reality, it is composed of “independent experts” receiving in principle no State instructions. But they are heirs to national and religious traditions that have a strong and inevitable impact on their conception of religious freedom. In particular, almost 30% of the experts come from Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which signed and ratified the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam (5 August 1990). This legal formulation of sharia rejects freedom of religion and states that “Islam is the natural religion of man”.

On the contrary, the ECHR is more courageous on the wearing of the burqa because it takes into account the history and reality of the European civilization. As in the cases cited above, it is likely that France invokes the case law of the European Court to justify a refusal to apply the findings of the UN Committee on the full veil. It could oppose to it the secularism and “neutrality”, which tend to be sanctified by the ECHR.

Read here


Related Posts


Share This