EUREL International Conference on ‘Governance and Religion’: Grassrootsmobilise Presentation on Religious Minorities in Italy

29-30 September 2016


On the 29 and 30 September EUREL (EUrope-RELigion) held an international conference on the theme ‘Governance and Religion’ at the University of Luxembourg. The Grassrootsmobilise programme was represented by Alberta Giorgi, researcher for the Italian case study, whose presentation ‘The legal status and strategic action of religious minorities in Italy: localized human rights’ discussed some of the preliminary results of her fieldwork research on religious minorities in Italy.

The conference programme is available here.

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Preliminary Media Study Results

We have conducted a systematic study of references to the ECtHR in national mainstream print media, designed to contribute to our understanding of how much information about the Court is published in widely-read papers, as well as to our understanding of discourse and mobilisations of relevant actors around the Court and its religion-related case law.

The study covers both media discourse, and the voices of relevant social actors as recorded in the media. It is a quantitative study, recording references to the ECtHR in relation to our selected issue areas (religion and education; legal status of religious minorities; LGBT-related issues in all but the Turkish case; and conscientious objection in the Greek and Turkish cases only). The study was conducted in five mainstream newspapers in each of the four country case studies, broadly representing the political spectrum within the ‘mainstream’ qualification, and as far back as the archives go for each paper from 1993 onwards.

The newspapers covered for the Greek case study were Avgi, Efimerida ton Syntakton, Eleftherotypia, Ethnos and Kathimerini. The Italian researchers looked at La Repubblica, Corriere della Sera, L’Unità, Libero and Avvenire. The newspapers examined for the Romanian case study were Adevărul, Evenimentul zilei, Gândul, Hotnews and Jurnalul National. Finally, the Turkish newspapers covered were Cumhuriyet, Hürriyet, Milliyet, Sabah and Yeni Safak.

The media study is a work-in-progress. For the Romanian case study we present a separate aspect of the study, to be explored for all the case studies as this work develops. You can find charts based on the preliminary results of the media study here:

Report on Preliminary Media Study Results


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Participation in Fourth ICLARS Conference, “Freedom of/for/from/in Religion: Differing Dimensions of a Common Right?”, with panel on “Freedom(s) of Religion and the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights”


8 –11 September 2016

St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, UK

The Fourth ICLARS Conference on “Freedom of/for/from/in Religion: Differing Dimensions of a Common Right?” took place from the 8th to the 11th of September at St. Hugh’s College in Oxford. The Conference featured a number of leading scholars presenting on a broad spectrum of interesting themes; the Grassrootsmobilise researchers participated with their panel on “Freedom(s) of Religion and the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights”, based on the preliminary results of their fieldwork research on the uses of ECtHR religion-related case law in national high courts.

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#6 Italy – Studying religious minorities and the European Court of Human Rights in Italy “in the field”: the case of Islam

By Pasquale Annicchino

Italian public authorities do not collect official statistics on the number of religious minorities and on religious affiliation in Italy. Based on several estimates, we can claim that in Italy there are currently more than one million Muslims. Of course, as a religious minority, Muslims face the same difficulties as other religious groups. These are exacerbated today by the growing climate of fear-mongering in the context of the increasing threats from terrorist groups. As we mentioned in our preliminary report on Italy, Muslims face important difficulties as they have not signed an “intesa” (agreement) with the State. I don’t want to focus here on all the legal and socio-political issues involved in the regulation of the relationship between Muslim communities and the Italian State, or on the protection of the individual right of Muslim believers to religious freedom (I would probably need a book to address these issues; those interested can read the monograph just published by Prof. Andrea Pin). Instead, I want to share with the readers of our website two recent experiences from work “in the field” that, directly or indirectly, have also informed our research.

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Picture 1: Meeting of the Council for the Relationships with Muslim Communities at the Italian Ministry of Interior

Picture 1 refers to the first meeting of the newly created Council for the Relationship with Muslim Communities at the Ministry of Interior. This is a consultative body which produces ideas useful for the Italian authorities, and especially for the Ministry of Interior, regarding how to engage Muslim communities and find legislative solutions towards guaranteeing the right to freedom of religion. I had the honour to be appointed as a member of this body by the Minister of Interior. So far it has been a great learning  experience (I hope I made some contributions as well!) in order to understand how institutions deal with the law in this field and how they frame issues related to rights and religion. The European Court of Human Rights and its decisions have been mentioned several times in our discussions. One should bear in mind that among the Members of the Council are not only lawyers but also sociologists, theologians, and political scientists. From a lawyer’s perspective it is always interesting to see how, even in the case of experts in the field, a major contribution of judicial decisions (and therefore their indirect effect) is the creation of a storytelling in particular political controversies. At this point lawyers often try to step in to maintain the legal direct effect of the decision, but I must admit that sometimes the indirect narrative effect is much deeper than the purely legal effect.

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