Journal Special Issue: European Court of Human Rights and minority religions

Religion, State and Society, 2017, 45 (3-4)

This special issue is devoted to an exploration of a disconnect between messages generated by the ECtHR through its case law and messages received at the grassroots level, in the domain of minority religious claims. Specifically, the contributions in this special issue critically assess some of the Court’s case law dealing with religious minority claims in terms of that case law’s clarity, consistency and controversiality, and they offer insight into the grassroots level impact of the Court’s case law on religious minority claims (and, specifically, claims to do with legal status).

Roughly divided, the first five contributions speak to the former matter, and the last five to the latter. And most derive from papers presented at a conference on Religion and Human Rights at the University of Padova in April 2016, organised within the International Joint PhD programme on ‘Human Rights, Society, and Multilevel Governance’. That conference allowed scholars who were working on various aspects of the work of the ECtHR to meet and interact in various sessions. Out of that interaction came the idea of developing a special issue on the work of the Court. The first five contributions are by scholars who presented independently on different panels at the latter conference, and the second batch of contributions showcase research conducted in the context of the Grassrootsmobilise Research Programme, four of which were presented on a panel on ‘Legal Status of Religious Minorities: Exploring the Impact of the European Court of Human Rights’ at the Padova conference (Fokas’ contribution was drafted subsequently).

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God’s Advocates: The multiple fronts of the war on blasphemy in Greece

Effie Fokas

eds. Jeroen Temperman and András Koltay, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression: Comparative, Theoretical and Historical Reflections after the Charlie Hebdo Massacre, (2017) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 389-410

‘God’s advocates’ refers to a broad range of actors who individually and together form a support system for the existence and application of the blasphemy laws in Greece. Specifically, their aim is to purge the offences against God, Christianity, the Greek Orthodox Church, and against the religious sentiments of individuals, from the Greek public square. They are assisted in this by certain corners of the political and judicial class. This chapter describes the work of God’s advocates while presenting some of the most important cases in which the blasphemy laws have been applied in a number of fronts of Greek social and cultural life. The text then examines the subsequent political (and notably not legal) mobilization of activists and artists working both at the national and international level towards the abolishment of these laws.  Navigating between a highly active effort from amongst the ranks of the Orthodox Church and the multilevel forces in the campaign against the laws, the chapter brings to life the current volatile battle in the Greek political scene over the decriminalization of blasphemy, and offers insight into the indeterminateness of that battle’s outcome.

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Single ECtHR Case Study Reports

The study of individual ECtHR cases emanating from each of the country studies in Grassrootsmobilise offers a vantage point on the role of mobilisations in the full life circle of a given case, from its inception (and the influences on that inception) to its aftermath, in terms of further mobilisations inspired by the case (or not, as the case may be). With one such case selected in each country study, this aspect of our research is not designed to generate generalisable conclusions but, rather, to contribute to our understanding of how individual cases tend to fit into much broader stories of mobilisation before and/or after the case in question. The research entails in-depth interviews with key actors in the particular cases and with actors in cases inspired by these, as well as careful study of the relevant case law from the local, national and European level. The cases selected for this in-depth study are Vallianatos v. Greece, Costa and Pavan v. Italy, Sindicatul Pastorul cel Bun v. Romania, and Ercep v. Turkey.

Greece – Single ECtHR Case Study Report

Italy – Single ECtHR Case Study Report

Romania – Single ECtHR Case Study Report

Turkey – Single ECtHR Case Study Report

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