Grassrootsmobilise Meeting on Religion and Education


16 – 19 November 2015

Istanbul, Turkey

Organiser: ELIAMEP

The Grassrootsmobilise team met in Istanbul between the 16th and 19th November 2015 to discuss the progress of their research. They had the honour of being joined by Dr. Riza Turmen, Professor Marco Ventura, Dr. Jeroen Temperman and Dr. Katayoun Alidadi, as well as by Advisory Board Members Professor Marie-Claire Foblets, Professor Haldun Gülalp and Professor Javier Martínez-Torrón.

Discussions were centered on the postdoctoral researchers’ current research focus, religion and education in the shadow of the ECtHR, and the related articles they are in the process of completing for a journal special issue. The group also explored the next stages of the research, namely references to the Court’s religion-related case law in mass media and in high courts in our four country cases.

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Participation of Grassrootsmobilise Researchers in ILGA Annual Conference

28-31 October 2015

ILGA Annual Conference, Divani Caravel Hotel, Athens, Greece

Based on the theme ‘Many voices, One movement – Together, mobilised for a just society’, ILGA Europe (the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association), an international non-governmental umbrella organisation bringing together over 400 organisations from 45 European countries, held its Annual conference in Athens from the 28th to the 31st October. The four-day programme offered the numerous participants an array of interesting panels and plenaries. The Grassrootsmobilise researchers from Greece, Italy and Romania took this opportunity to present their proposed research questions on ‘Grassroots Mobilisations at the Intersection of Religion with LGBT Rights’ via a small discussion event on the evening of Thursday, 29th October. Here the researchers introduced the key debates in each country context studied around LGBT rights that also tend to mobilise religious interest groups, such as civil unions and same-sex marriage, and gender and sex education. They then opened up the discussion to hear the views of the audience about their different national experiences on issues that are found at the intersection of religion and LGBT rights and on the role of the European Court of Human Rights in the promotion of the audience’s interests.

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Participation in ‘Conference in Preparation for the 2016 Council of the Orthodox Church’ at Fordham University

26 – 27 June 2015

Fordham University School of Law, New York City

In 2016, the leaders of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches from around the world will gather at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople/Istanbul for a much discussed and anticipated ‘Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church’. This conference at Fordham University entailed a series of papers and panel discussions addressing several themes from the Agenda for the 2016 Council, including ‘Autocephaly and Diaspora’; ‘the Canonical Impediments to Marriage’; ‘Ecumenical Relations’; ‘the Contribution of the Orthodox Church to the Realization of Justice, Freedom, Brotherhood, and Love among Peoples’; and ‘Fasting regulations’. The conference brought together over 30 scholars from various disciplines to discuss the potential framework for discussions of each of these topics at the 2016 Council. Effie Fokas, Grassrootsmobilise Principal Investigator, chaired the panel discussion on Ecumenical Relations. The keynote address was delivered by Metropolitan Bishop Kallistos Ware, University of Oxford.

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Grassrootsmobilise ‘In the Field’ Meeting


19/06/2015 – 20/06/2015

Fougaro, Nafplio, Greece

Organiser: ELIAMEP

On the 19th and 20th June 2015 Eliamep hosted the team members and the post-doctoral researchers, as well as Professor Ruud Koopmans and Advisory Board member Dr. Dilek Kurban, for the third meeting of the Grassrootsmobilise Research Programme, in Nafplio, Greece. The programme members met at the Fougaro cultural centre to discuss the progress of the researcher’s interview research in Greece, Italy, Romania and Turkey and their preliminary results, as well as to plan for the next stages of the research.

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Participation in the Conference on ‘The Governance of Religious Diversity, More or Less Secularism?’

10-12 June 2015

Sala Europa, Villa Schifanoia

The European University Institute conference entitled ‘The Governance of Religious Diversity More or Less Secularism?’ examined four main research questions: Is the best way to deal with religious diversity to accept more religion in public life for both majorities and minorities or to move towards radical secularism? Is there a principled, normative answer to this question or is it a matter of context and issues at hand? Thus, under some conditions more religion is desirable and in others more secularism must apply and our decisions shall be framed differently depending on whether we discuss gender relations or blasphemy/freedom of expression laws? What can we learn from policies and practices in the Middle East and Asia where religious plurality has for long periods been the norm rather than the exception? Since religion can neither be wholly privatised nor allowed to dominate political life, what are the best ways of accommodating it in a democratic society? What are the “battlefields” of religious diversity in the years to come?

Principle Investigator Effie Fokas participated in the roundtable discussion on ‘Identifying Battlefields for the Next Decade’.

For more information about this conference, please see here.

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Presentation at the International Conference on ‘Political Orthodoxy and Totalitarianism in a post-Communist Era’

28-31 May 2015

Cultural Center Sofia, Helsinki

This conference, organized by the Volos Academy for Theological Studies in cooperation with the Orthodox Christian Studies Center, Fordham University (New York, USA); the Chair of Orthodox Theology, Münster University (Germany); the Romanian Institute for Inter-Orthodox, Inter-Confessional and Inter-Religious Studies (INTER, Cluj-Napoca, Romania); the St Andrews Biblical Theological Institute (Moscow); the Institute for the Study of Culture and Christianity (Belgrade, Serbia); the Sankt Ignatios Theological Academy (Stockholm, Sweden); and the European Forum of the Orthodox Schools of Theology (EFOST, Brussels), considered issues related to totalitarianism, the demand for freedom and democracy, the concept and the reality of “Political Orthodoxy,” and the current position of the Orthodox Church within the context of the post-communist era, with the main, but not exclusive, focus on Eastern and Central Europe. Among the issues addressed were the relationship between Orthodoxy and Democracy, Orthodoxy and human rights, Orthodoxy and political liberalism, secularism, theological education, religious, national, and cultural pluralism and the challenges that these diverse realities pose to the Orthodox Church and its theological discourse concerning its self- understanding.

Principle Investigator Effie Fokas presented a paper on ‘The Challenge of Pluralism in Orthodoxy’.

Please find the Conference Programme here.

For further information about this Conference please see here.

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Grassrootsmobilise Public Event and ‘Preparation for the Field’ Meeting




Megaron Mousikis & Electra Hotel, Athens, Greece

Organiser: ELIAMEP

In January 2015, Eliamep hosted the team members, the post-doctoral researchers and the distinguished members of the advisory board for the second meeting of the Grassrootsmobilise Research Programme, in Athens. The meeting started was preceded by a public lecture on 08/01/2015 on ‘Religion, National Identity and Human Rights’, by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt; Nikos Alivizatos, Eva Brems and Malcolm Evans responded to his intervention. Effie Fokas, the Principal Investigator of the Grassrootsmobilise Research Programme chaired the lecture and the discussion.

For the video of the public lecture, please see:

On 9 and 10 January, the programme members met at Electra Hotel to discuss the developments of the Programme and the research conducted thus far and to help prepare the newly-hired postdoctoral researchers for their research in the field.

Please find the Programme of the Meeting here.


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Presentation at the workshop of the European University Institute: ‘Judging Faiths: Religious Freedom at the Bar in U.S. and European Courts’


Conference Room, Villa La Fonte  via delle Fontanelle, 18 – San Domenico di Fiesole

23-24 October 2014

Organisers:  Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies/European University Institute

This workshop aimed to bring together a group of distinguished judges, scholars and advocates to discuss the tensions between faith-based practices and secular ideals in courts. These insights included: how, despite very different institutional frameworks, the similar ways US and European Courts make room for local variation through a jurisprudence of avoidance; the ways that American style (and often American-backed) litigation activists are transforming what has been a European group-based conception of religious freedom into an individualistic conception; and common strategies through which litigants translate matters of faith into the interests protected by law.

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Presentation at the Law and Religion Symposium 2014: ‘Varieties of Secularism, Religion, and the Law’

Law and Religion Symposium 2014: ‘Varieties of Secularism, Religion, and the Law’ 5-7 October 2014

Provo, Utah, USA

Organiser: International Centre for Law and Religion Studies

The 21st annual International Law and Religion Symposium, took place at Brigham Young University Law School in Provo, Utah. This year 80 invited delegates, from 40 countries, addressed the theme “Varieties of Secularism, Religion, and the Law.” This year’s delegates included scholars, government officials, journalists, and religious and civic leaders from Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, France, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia.

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Presentation at the Conference ‘Religious Diversity and Tolerance in Europe and Turkey’

6 June 2014

London School of Economics

Organiser: Chair in Contemporary Turkish Studies, London School of Economics

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This conference brought together scholars who work on related issues regarding religious pluralism in Turkey and in different countries across Europe. The aim was to understand the larger socio-political processes and discourses that shape and define religious diversity with an emphasis on similarities and differences.

In this context, Effie presented a paper on ‘Religious Freedom versus national identity’, which developed the notion that many religious freedom limitations are strongly linked to the often banal but not always benign expressions of the relationship between religion and national identity (whether that relationship be positive, as in the Greek or Norwegian case, or negative, as in the French or Turkish cases).

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