European Law and the Prohibition of the Veil

45 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2014

See all articles by Ronan McCrea

Ronan McCrea

University College London - Faculty of Laws

Date Written: March 4, 2011


This paper shows that European commitments to free speech and freedom of religion cannot accommodate an absolute ban justified solely on grounds of the offensiveness of the veil. However, the exercise of expressive rights in the social context raises particular issues and a ban that applies to public face-covering in general (rather than a ban that only targets the veil), that relates to the specific (though admittedly broad) context of social life and that provides some exceptions allowing the veil to be worn in specific religious or expressive contexts, may be compatible with European legal norms despite the significant infringement of personal autonomy it would involve.

Keywords: Freedom of Religion, veil, headscarf, Islam, Human rights, Europe, Social life

Suggested Citation

McCrea, Ronan, European Law and the Prohibition of the Veil (March 4, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Ronan McCrea (Contact Author)

University College London - Faculty of Laws ( email )

Gower St
London WC1E OEG, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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