Publications round-up (further details below)

*Texts in green are freely available online



Directions in Religious Pluralism in Europe: Mobilizations in the Shadow of European Court of Human Rights Religious Freedom Jurisprudence’, Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2015, pp. 54-74 – Effie Fokas

Comparative Susceptibility and Differential Effects on the Two European Courts: A Study of Grasstops Mobilizations around Religion’, Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 5, No. 3, 2016, pp. 541-574 – Effie Fokas

‘Kokkinakis at the Grassroots Level’, Journal of Religion and Human Rights, 2017, Vol.12, Nos. 2-3, pp. 210-222 – Effie Fokas

‘The Legal Status of Religious Minorities: exploring the impact of the European Court of Human Rights’Social Compass, 2018, Vol. 65, No. 1, pp. 25-42 – Effie Fokas

Journal Special Issue: European Court of Human Rights and minority religions, Religion, State and Society, 2017, Vol. 45, Nos. 3-4:

Symposium: Religion and Education in the Shadow of the European Court of Human Rights, Politics and Religion, 2019, Vol. 12, Supplement S1:



‘Sociology at the intersection between law and religion’, in ed. Silvio Ferrari, Routledge Handbook of Law and Religion, Routledge, 2015, pp. 59-74 – Effie Fokas

‘God’s advocates: The multiple fronts of the war on blasphemy in Greece’, in eds. Jeroen Temperman and Andras Koltay, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression: Comparative, Theoretical and Historical Reflections after the Charlie Hebdo Massacre, Cambridge University Press, 2017, pp. 389-410 – Effie Fokas

‘The Geopolitics of Transnational Law and Religion’, in eds. Susanna Mancini and Michel Rosenfeld, The Conscience Wars: Rethinking the balance between Religion, Identity and Equality, Cambridge University press, 2018, pp. 258-274 – Pasquale Annicchino

‘Pluralism and Religious Freedom. Insights from Orthodox Europe’, in eds. Elisabeth A. Diamantopoulou and Louis-Leon Christians, Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights in Europe: A Dialogue Between Theological Paradigms and Socio-Legal Pragmatics, Peter Lang2018 – Effie Fokas

‘Religious American and Secular European Courts, or vice versa? A study of institutional cross-pollination’, in ed. Titus Hjelm, Peter L. Berger and the Sociology of Religion: 50 Years after the Sacred Canopy, Bloomsbury Academic, 2018, pp. 135-155 – Effie Fokas

‘Grassroots level awareness about religion at the European Court of Human Rights’, in eds. Jeroen Temperman, Jeremy Gunn and Malcolm Evans, The Kokkinakis Papers: Taking Stock of 25 years of ECHR Jurisprudence on Freedom of Religion or Belief, forthcoming – Effie Fokas

‘Implementation and impact of Strasbourg Court rulings: the case of religious minorities and their Convention freedoms’, in eds. Jeroen Temperman, Jeremy Gunn and Malcolm Evans, The Kokkinakis Papers: Taking Stock of 25 years of ECHR Jurisprudence on Freedom of Religion or Belief, forthcoming – Dia Anagnostou

‘Religion and Human Rights in Greece’, in eds. Giuseppe Giordan and Siniša Zrinščak, Global Eastern Orthodoxy: Politics, Religion, and Human Rights, forthcoming 2019 – Effie Fokas

‘In the shadow of the ‘prevailing’ religion: religious communities and civil society in Greece’, Religious Communities and Civil Society in Europe: Analyses and Perspectives on a Complex Interplay, Volume 1, ed. Rupert Graf Strachwitz, De Gruyter Oldenbourg, forthcoming July 2019 – Margarita Markoviti



The European Court of Human Rights and minority religions: messages generated and messages received, eds. Effie Fokas and James T. Richardson, (2018) Abingdon: Routledge:

– ECtHR and case law: clarity, consistency and controversy

  • ‘The principled slope: religious freedom and the European Court of Human Rights’ – Melanie Adrian
  • ‘The freedom to wear religious clothing in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights: an appraisal in the light of states’ positive obligations’ – Marcella Ferri
  • ‘Human rights and religions: ‘living together’ or dying apart? A critical assessment of the dissenting opinion in S.A.S. v. France and the notion of ‘living together’’ – Christos Tsevas
  • ‘Militant or pluralist secularism? The European Court of Human Rights facing religious diversity’ – Roberta Medda-Windischer
  • ‘Update on Jehovah’s Witness cases before the European Court of Human Rights: implications of a surprising partnership’ – James T. Richardson
  • ‘Trying Islam: Muslims before the European Court of Human Rights’ – Turan Kayaoglu
  • ‘A rights-based discourse to contest the boundaries of state secularism? The case of the headscarf bans in France and Turkey’ – Amélie Barras

– The ECtHR at grassroots level

  • ‘The European Court of Human Rights at the grassroots level: who knows what about religion at the ECtHR and to what effects?’ – Effie Fokas
  • ‘The ‘filtering effects’ of ECtHR case law on religious freedoms: legal recognition and places of worship for religious minorities in Greece’ – Margarita Markoviti
  • ‘‘Genuine’ religions and their arena of legitimation in Italy – the role of the ECtHR’ – Alberta Giorgi and Pasquale Annicchino
  • ‘Legal provisions, courts, and the status of religious communities: a socio-legal analysis of inter-religious relations in Romania’ – Mihai Popa and Liviu Andreescu
  • ‘Beyond legal victory or reform: the legal mobilisation of religious groups in the European Court of Human Rights’ – Ceren Ozgul

Alberta Giorgi, Religioni di minoranza tra Europa e laicità locale [Minority religions between Europe and local secularism], (2018) Milan: Mimesis

Pasquale Annicchino, La religione in giudizio. Tra Corte Suprema degli Stati Uniti e Corte Europea dei diritti dell’uomo, (2018) Bologna: Il Mulino

The European Court of Human Rights on the Ground: Grassroots Level Impact of Religious Freedoms Jurisprudence, ed. Effie Fokas (forthcoming 2019):

  • ‘Introduction’ – Effie Fokas
  • ‘“Multi-Speed Religions”: The ECtHR and the Limits of Legal Recognition of Religious Minorities in Greece’ – Margarita Markoviti
  • ‘The strategic action of religious minorities in Italy’ – Pasquale Annicchino and Alberta Giorgi
  • ‘The interest of religious actors in the ECtHR in the Romanian context’ – Mihai Popa
  • ‘Legal Mobilization among Turkey’s religious minorities and belief groups’ – Ceren Ozgul
  • ‘The role of Jehovah’s Witnesses case law in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights’ – James T. Richardson and Mihai Popa
  • ‘The modest and variable recourse of Europe’s ‘old’ and ‘new’ Muslims to human rights litigation’ – Dia Anagnostou
  • ‘Pursuing freedom from religion: Atheists, secularists, and humanists’ activism before the ECtHR’ – Effie Fokas and Julie Ringelheim
  • ‘Conclusion: Tracing the radiating effects of the ECtHR religion-related jurisprudence’ – Effie Fokas



‘The “radiating effects” of the European Court of Human Rights on social mobilisations around religion in Europe – an analytical frame’, Grassrootsmobilise Working Paper 1, v. 22 May 2015 – Dia Anagnostou and Effie Fokas

‘The Secular Court?’, Grassrootsmobilise Working Paper 2, v. 1 November 2016 – Effie Fokas

‘The ECtHR as a Venue for Greco-Turkish Relations: The Treaty of Lausanne and the Muslim Minority in Western Thrace’, Grassrootsmobilise Working Paper 3, v. 4 May 2017 – Margarita Markoviti

‘Religious Pluralism and Education in Greece’, LSE Hellenic Observatory Blog, 21 February 2017 – Effie Fokas and Margarita Markoviti

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Symposium: Religion and Education in the Shadow of the European Court of Human Rights

Politics and Religion, 2019, Vol. 12, Supplement S1

A symposium on the “indirect effects” of the European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence on the place of religion in the educational sphere. The symposium showcases empirical research providing critical insight into how the Court’s decisions may influence related domestic debates, raise public consciousness, and change how social actors perceive their rights and articulate their right claims in the area of religion and education. The research underpinning this symposium represents a clear departure from existing scholarship in this domain: it examines the impact of the Court not from the top-down (Court impact on states and their legislative frameworks) but from grassroots level upwards, in seeking to understand whether, how and to what extent Court decisions influence grassroots level actors’ conceptions of their rights in the domain of religion and education and their efforts to secure new rights vis-à-vis their states.

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Minority religions between Europe and local secularism

Alberta Giorgi

Religioni di minoranza tra Europa e laicità locale, (2018) Milan: Mimesis

This book concerns the place of minority religions in Italy, against the scenario of the processes that characterize contemporary societies – secularization, laicization, Europeanization, immigration – and of the tensions that they trigger or bring to light. Does the process of secularization have the same effects on the different religious communities – their internal organization, their ways of understanding and expressing the faith and the religious, how they are dealt with in the public and the political spheres? What is the configuration of secularism, in the sense of separation between religious and political institutions, in the light of the transformations of the contemporary religious? And what is the impact of the Europeanization process? In particular, how does the redistribution of competences to supra- and sub-national governments impacts on the geometries of secularism? Does Europeanization have a secularizing effect? How is the ‘religious’ dimension of immigration dealt with, from an intersectional point of view?

These are the questions that orient the volume. In particular, specific attention is given to the complex interweaving (local, national and international) of laws, norms, regulations and jurisprudence which constitute the normative scenario of minority religions in Italy.

Drawing mainly on data collected in the framework of the ERC project “Grassrootsmobilise Directions in Religious Pluralism in Europe – Examining Grassroots Mobilisations in the Shadow of European Court of Human Rights Religious Freedom Jurisprudence”, the volume is structured in five chapters.

Available here.

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The European Court of Human Rights and Minority Religions: Messages Generated and Messages Received

eds. Effie Fokas and James T. Richardson, (2018) Abingdon: Routledge

This book includes a collection of studies focused on engagements of religious minorities with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Beginning with an introduction of the global importance of the ECtHR as a standard setter in the protection of religious minority rights, the subsequent five chapters entail critical assessments of some of the Court’s case law dealing with religious minority claims (exploring their clarity and consistency – or lack thereof – and controversiality). In the process these texts impart a nuanced perspective on the challenges the Court faces in striking the right balance between protecting individual freedoms and respecting state rights to manage ‘nationally’ and ‘culturally’ sensitive matters. The second set of contributions makes readers privy to the varied results of this balancing act on the ground. Specifically, it offers empirically-based insight into the impact of the Court’s religion-related case law on grassroots religious minority groups working to defend their individual and communal rights. The chapters taken together deepen our understanding of the ECtHR in its approach to and impact on religious minorities and offer a rare vantage point on the Court, from the messages its generates to the messages received by religious minorities at the grassroots level.

The chapters in this book were originally published in ReligionState & Society, the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs and Democratization.

Available here.

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Religious American and Secular European Courts? A study of institutional cross-pollination

Effie Fokas

in ed. Titus Hjelm, Peter L. Berger and the Sociology of Religion: 50 Years after The Sacred Canopy, (2018) London: Bloomsbury Academic, 135-155

In his 2005 National Interest article on ‘Religion and the West’, Peter Berger suggested that one of the variables distinguishing between a religious America and a secular Europe is the function of certain institutions, such as the educational system, political parties and labor unions. In Religious America, Secular Europe?, we explored, amongst these, the role of the judiciary and, specifically, the critical differences between the United States Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. The present article explores a phenomenon which has developed especially in the period since the publication of that book: namely, the cross-pollination of the two courts achieved by religiously motivated legal actors seeking to influence the handling of certain religion-related matters by the ‘other’ court. The article is based on empirical research conducted with a number of such engaged US and Europe-based legal actors.

Available here:

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Pluralism and Religious Freedom. Insights from Orthodox Europe

Effie Fokas

in eds. Elisabeth A. Diamantopoulou and Louis-Leon Christians, Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights in Europe: A Dialogue Between Theological Paradigms and Socio-Legal Pragmatics, (2018) Oxford: Peter Lang

A snapshot of European societies today reveals the importance of religious minority treatment and the grave potential that the latter can carry for instability and even social unrest in a situation of rapidly increasing religious diversity. The Pew Forum’s influential study on the ‘Rising tide of restrictions on religion’ highlighted the problem on a global scale. Most conspicuous are the reactions of Muslim groups against what they perceive to be intolerant majorities, but other (less attended by the mass media) religious minority experiences are no less compelling evidence of tensions around religious pluralism in localities across Europe. Registration restrictions, curtailed rights to expressions of faith, and exclusion from mass media are amongst several limitations on religious freedom experienced by religious minorities in Europe.

Such limitations of religious freedoms are particularly prominent in countries where Orthodox Christianity is the majority faith. Indicatively, majority Orthodox states are accountable for 63% of all European Court of Human Rights convictions for religious freedoms violations. What is the reason behind this state of affairs? Is there something intrinsic to Orthodoxy as a religious and social institution that makes it intolerant towards minorities? Or are there historical and political particularities in individual Orthodox majority countries that underlie the barriers to religious freedoms in each case?

This chapter draws on empirical research conducted in four majority Orthodox countries with the explicit aim of addressing such questions. Specifically, the text reflects research conducted by the author in Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and Greece, in response to two particular realities: first, the aforementioned prominence of limitations to religious freedoms in majority Orthodox contexts, and second, a body of social science literature questioning the relationship between Orthodoxy and pluralism.

Available here:

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The Geopolitics of Transnational Law and Religion

Pasquale Annicchino

in eds. Susanna Mancini and Michel Rosenfeld, The Conscience Wars: Rethinking the balance between Religion, Identity and Equality, (2018) Cambridge University Press, pp.258-274.

The aim of this contribution is to contextualize the current wars of conscience within the global scenario of culture wars through the frame of legal narrative and geopolitical imagery, in which religious factors and variables play a significant role. Legal orders and conscience-related conflicts are therefore understood in the context of a constantly shifting and fragmenting international legal regime.

Available here.

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Religion and Human Rights in Greece

Effie Fokas

in eds. Giuseppe Giordan and Siniša Zrinščak, Global Eastern Orthodoxy. Politics, Religion and Human Rights, New York: Springer, forthcoming 2019.

From a number of perspectives Greece may be considered to hold a special place in the nexus between religion and human rights: Greece was the recipient of the first European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) conviction for violation of religious freedom (in Kokkinakis v. Greece, 1993); it is also the single country with the largest number of religious freedom convictions to date  (over 20% of all such violations found across the 47 member states of the Council of Europe); and it is host to a very broad range of debates regarding religious freedom, from blasphemy laws, proselytism bans, and protracted resistance to the building of mosques, to religious education in public schools, limitations on legal status of religious minorities, and – less directly related to religion but rather conspicuously influenced by majority Orthodoxy – limitations on rights related to social ethics issues (e.g., same-sex marriage). This chapter offers an overview of contemporary challenges and debates in the Greek public sphere regarding religion and human rights and in so doing draws on empirical research conducted on religion, human rights, and the impact of the ECtHR at the grassroots level.

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Too Little, Too Late for Religious Freedom in Greece?

Blog post by Dr. Effie Fokas, Principal Investigator for GRASSROOTSMOBILISE, on the issue of religious education in Greek public schools, for the Public Orthodoxy blog of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University, May 10, 2018.

The Western Thrace region of Greece exists as an anomaly in Europe for the prevalence of sharia courts over secular courts on matters related to family law. This anomaly is left over from a population exchange between Greece and Turkey and the terms set out in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. The governance of sharia in the region (specifically, for interference in the selection of Muftis) has been the subject of several cases against the state of Greece in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), cases in which the Greek state was found to be violating the claimants’ freedom of religion.

Unsurprisingly, the Greek state is keen to avoid further shaming over an issue that already draws significant negative attention from its European partners. In November of 2017, the Greek government announced a bill to limit the powers of Islamic sharia courts operating in Western Thrace. The timing of the bill’s announcement made rather conspicuous the connection to a pending case against Greece before the European Court of Human Rights: in December of 2017 the ECtHR was due to hear (and did in fact hear) the case of Molla Sali v. Greece, in which a woman claimed that the application of sharia law over her husband’s civil law will for his estate entailed discrimination on the basis of religion (inheritance issues of non-Muslim Greeks are, of course, dealt with solely under civil law). Under sharia law, 2/3rds of the estate would go to the sisters of the deceased instead of the full estate being bequeathed to Molla Sali, as was set out in her husband’s civil law will. Here the government’s move was one case of too little too late, with Greek law falling short of and trailing behind, time-wise, developments within the ECtHR: the new law will not save the Greek state from a further violation found (the judgment is still pending), and most importantly, it still leaves the sharia courts in place.

Read the full post here.


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