SAS v France: A Reality Check

Forthcoming in Nottingham Law Journal, 2016

16 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2016

Date Written: July 15, 2016


In the debate on ‘burqa bans’ in Europe, the Grand Chamber judgment of SAS v France of the European Court of Human Rights has become a central reference point. This paper attempts to examine the judgment from the perspective of the persons who are most directly affected by it, i.e. women who wear or wish to wear a face veil in Europe, yet who live in a place where a face covering ban is in effect. The paper draws on empirical research based on interviews with women who wear/wore a face veil in Belgium and France. The main purpose of the paper is the confrontation of the reasoning of the Grand Chamber with the lived realities of face veil wearers. In addition, the final section of the paper looks ahead and speculates about whether the Court might use the opportunity of the pending Belgian face veil cases to clarify or adjust some of its discourse in SAS.

Keywords: religious freedom, European Convention on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights, face veil, Belgium, France, SAS v France

Suggested Citation

Brems, Eva, SAS v France: A Reality Check (July 15, 2016). Forthcoming in Nottingham Law Journal, 2016, Available at SSRN:

Eva Brems (Contact Author)

Ghent University ( email )

Coupure Links 653
Ghent, 9000

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