European Journal of Law Reform

Article

The Manifestation of Religious Belief Through Dress

Human Rights and Constitutional Issues

Keywords religion, religious freedom, burqa, hijab, Muslim
Authors Anthony Gray
Author's information

Anthony Gray
Professor of Law, University of Southern Queensland, Australia.
  • Abstract

      Jurisdictions around the world continue to grapple with the clash between religious freedoms and other freedoms and values to which a society subscribes. A recent, and current, debate concerns the extent to which a person is free to wear items of clothing often thought to be symbolic of the Muslim faith, though the issues are not confined to any particular religion. Bans on the wearing of this type of clothing have often (surprisingly) survived human rights challenges, on the basis that governments had legitimate objectives in banning or restricting them. A pending case gives the European Court another chance to reconsider the issues. It is hoped that the Court will closely scrutinise claims of legitimate objectives for such laws; perceptions can arise that sometimes, governments are pandering to racism, intolerance and xenophobia with such measures, rather than seeking to meet more high-minded objectives.

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