Participation in EASR “Relocating Religion” Conference, with panel on “Mobilizations around Religion and Education in the Shadow of the European Court of Human Rights”


28 June – 1 July 2016

Helsinki, Finland

The Grassrootsmobilise researchers recently participated in the European Association of the Study of Religions (EASR) Conference on “Relocating Religions”, which took place in Helsinki between 28 June and 1 July 2016. They presented a group panel on “Mobilizations around Religion and Education in the Shadow of the European Court of Human Rights”, discussing the preliminary results of their fieldwork research on the respective issue area.

Specifically, Pasquale Annicchino and Alberta Giorgi presented their paper “Juridical Regimes and political opportunity structure – the difficulties of ‘sizing it up’”, exploring the reasons why, in dealing with religious teaching, Italian grassroots actors do not size up the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) jurisprudence and the plurality of juridical regimes dealing with religion and education as “windows of opportunity”.

Margarita Markoviti’s paper “In-between the Constitution and the European Court of Human Rights: Mobilizations around Religion and Education in Greece” examined the impact of ECtHR decisions on the legal opportunity structures and the political and public discourse around three debates: the content and objectives of RE in light of the ‘prevailing’ religion of the Christian Orthodox Church; exemption from RE; and religious symbols in school.

The panel’s third paper, “Contesting the place of religion in education in post-communist Romania: strategic uses of the ECtHR and its case-law”, written by Mihai Popa and Liviu Andreescu and presented by the former, discussed the legal and discursive strategies of using the jurisprudence of the ECtHR in the context of education as it became a field of contentious politics in Romania after communism’s fall, one of several battlegrounds for opposite positions on the separation between state and religion in general, and on the relationship between the Romanian state and the Orthodox Church.

Finally, Ceren Ozgul’s paper “ECtHR and Religious Education Under State Control in Turkey: Monitoring, Policy, and Protest” was presented, concerning mobilization in Turkey around compulsory religious education classes after two seminal judgments of the ECtHR: Hasan and Eylem Zengin v. Turkey and Mansur Yalcin and Others v. Turkey. It considered critically and comparatively the actors’ awareness of ECtHR case law on Turkey where mobilization is provoked indirectly by these cases, and directly by the non-compliance with the ECtHR rulings by the government.

The researchers received positive and constructive feedback and are currently developing their papers towards a journal special issue.