Grassrootsmobilise Public Event & Conference

3-4 May 2018 – Athens, Greece


The European public square has, in the last twenty years and increasingly so, been inundated with controversies and debates around the place of religion in the public sphere. Against this backdrop the European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence on religious issues has emerged to add its own voice. In so doing it significantly influences the terms of the debates.

Greece has a special place in the religion-related jurisprudence of the ECtHR: the Kokkinakis v. Greece case (1993) was the first in which a violation of religious freedom (Art.9) was found, and over 20% of all such violations found amongst 47 states are against the state of Greece. The ECtHR drew grassroots level attention in Greece in 2009 when it ruled that religious symbols (such as icons) should be removed from public schools (Lautsi v. Italy, 2009, a decision later reversed after several countries, including Greece, intervened on the matter). It may again enter the Greek public scene through debate on reform of religious education in public schools, currently a volatile political issue and one on which the ECtHR has ruled extensively and decisively – only not (yet) in the Greek context.

This event brings together former ECtHR judges and scholars to debate the question of whether the Court has gone too far, or not far enough, in its interventions on religion-related matters. The event is organised under the auspices of the European Research Council-funded Grassrootsmobilise Research Programme led by Dr. Effie Fokas. This event precedes a day-long conference showcasing research results which, in turn, will be followed by the presentation of the book The Kokkinakis Papers: Taking Stock of 25 years of ECHR Jurisprudence on Freedom of Religion or Belief.


Public Event

Religion and Secularism:

does the Court go too far – or not far enough?


Thursday, 3 May 2018, 17:30-20:00, Acropolis Museum



Professor Eva Brems (Professor of Human Rights Law, Ghent University)

Judge Ann Power-Forde (Former Judge at the European Court of Human Rights; Attorney at law)

Judge Christos Rozakis (President of the Administrative Tribunal of the Council of Europe; Former Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights; Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece)

Professor Joseph H. H. Weiler (Joseph Straus Professor of Law, European Union Jean Monnet Chaired Professor, New York University (NYU); Co-Director, Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law and Justice; Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of International Law; Co-Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Constitutional Law)



Effie Fokas (Senior Research Fellow, Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP); Research Associate, Hellenic Observatory, London School of Economics (LSE))



Between state and citizen:

religion at the ECtHR


Friday, 4 May 2018, 09:30-19:00, Aigli Zappeiou

09:30-09:45 Welcome and introduction of Grassrootsmobilise Effie Fokas


09:45-11:30 Negotiating religious pluralism in the shadow of the Court: Insights from Grassrootsmobilise

Awareness of the Court and its case law – Effie Fokas

Legal status of religious minorities in the shadow of the Court – Greek and Turkish cases compared – Ceren Ozgul and Margarita Markoviti

Majorities react: the Court as a resource for majority faiths in Lautsi  Pasquale Annichinno and Alberta Giorgi

Grasstops v. grassroots perspective on the Sindicatul case – Liviu Andreescu and Mihai Popa

Chair: Dia Anagnostou

Discussants: Marco Ventura; Julie Ringelheim


11:30-12:00 Coffee break


12:00-13:30 Actors before the Court discussing the mobilisations at play

Participants: Panayote Dimitras; Yannis Ktistakis; Andrea Williams

Moderator: Nikiforos Diamandouros (tbc)

Discussants: Lisa Harms; Christopher McCrudden


13:30-15:15 Lunch


15:15-16:30 Roundtable: ‘Do we need the ECtHR to protect religious freedom?

Participants: Nicos Alivizatos; Malcolm Evans; Marie-Claire Foblets; Ronan McCrea; Gregor Puppinck (tbc);Brett Scharffs; Lucy Vickers

Moderator: Cole Durham

16:30-17:00 Coffee break


‘The Kokkinakis Papers’ Book Presentation Session and Reception

17:00-18:45 Twenty-Five years of ECtHR Jurisprudence on Religion: Current challenges, lessons learned and lessons lost

Presenting Twenty-Five years of ECtHR Jurisprudence on Freedom of Religion or BeliefSilvio Ferrari

Strengthening the effectiveness of the ECtHR in the context of new (and old) nationalisms – Jeremy Gunn

The ECtHR and other human rights institutions in comparative perspective – Ahmed Shaheed

Chair: Grace Davie


18:45 Closing remarks: Effie Fokas

19:00 Reception celebrating the publication of The Kokkinakis Papers: Taking Stock of 25 years of ECHR Jurisprudence on Freedom of Religion or Belief


Both the event and the conference are free and open to all, pending registration.


Alexia Mitsikostas (Programme Manager)

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