Head-Covering Bans in Belgian Courtrooms and Beyond: Headscarf Persecution and the Complicity of Supranational Courts
Forthcoming, Human Rights Quarterly, Fall 2017
32 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 29, 2016
The Islamic headscarf is banned in an increasing number of contexts in Belgium. According to the authors, this pattern can be characterized as ‘headscarf persecution’. A topical example relates to access to courtrooms, which is evidenced by Lachiri v. Belgium, a case pending before the European Court of Human Rights. This article first reviews the interpretation of the ban on head-coverings in the courtroom. On the basis of a poll conducted among judges, their approach towards religious and non-religious head-coverings in courtrooms is discussed in practice. The matter is then considered within the broader Belgian social and legal context and, lastly, analysed in light of the case law of the European Courts.
Keywords: headscarf, courtroom, european court of human rights, european court of justice, freedom of religion, discrimination
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