Freedom of Religion in Belgium and the Hijab

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An overview of the laws pertaining to headscarves for women in Belgium, and Belgium's obligations under international human rights norms.

Briefing: Freedom of Religion in Belgium and the Hijab

1. Introduction

In Belgium there are three main areas in which religious clothing is seen as causing problems; pupils wearing hijab (hijab and headscarf will be used interchangeably) in school, civil servants wearing hijab, and the wearing of niqab and burka in public spaces. The headscarf has become an issue especially within the educational sector, which has been documented since the middle of the 1970s. The debate intensified towards the end of 1989, following on from similar debates in France1. There is, however, no national legislation regulating the wearing of religious symbols in Belgium. Bans have been introduced into regulations and bylaws by schools and local authorities. The majority of Belgian schools now prohibit pupils and teachers from wearing the hijab2. Belgium has a small Muslim population, around 375,000, which makes up 4% of the country's total population3. Belgium is a federal state with segregated political power into three levels: the federal government; three communities; and three regions4.

2. Documented Incidents 2000 -2007

2.1 Hijab in Schools
In Belgium, everything related to education is under the jurisdiction of the Communities5. Since the 1990s schools introduced hijab bans through existing bylaws that allow schools to regulate school uniforms6. In December 2003, two Belgian Senators presented a draft law to the Belgian Senate to prohibit the wearing of the hijab and other overt religious symbols in state schools. Interior minister Patrick Dewael said,

'[t]he government should remain neutral…in all circumstances and be represented as such…that means no distinctive religious symbols or veils for police officers, judges, clerks or teachers at public schools'.

Furthermore, Senator Anne-Marie Lizin said that the ban was needed to oppose Islamic sexism, as 'the veil amounts to the oppression of the individual in the name of religion'. However, the senators were unable to acquire the necessary support and the draft was not taken any further7. By 2004 both the government of the French and the Flemish community had handed the responsibility over to schools under their authority to prohibit the wearing of headscarves8. In 2005 the Antwerp Court of Appeal ruled that the Belgian anti-discrimination law did not prohibit school from banning headscarves. The appellants challenged a general prohibition on head coverings in a school in Hasselt. The Court held that public schools can limit freedom of religion in cases where such a measure is considered necessary to ensure the proper organization of school work and/or to guarantee the safety or the rights of other students9.

French Community Prime Minister Marie Arena approved in August 2005 a regulation implemented by the state secondary schools Gilly and Vauban (in Charleroi) banning the wearing of any form of head garment. Following this approval by a minister the anti-racism movement MRAX took legal action in the Belgian Conseil d' Etat (Supreme Administrative Court of Belgium) to overturn school regulations banning the hijab. The case is pending before the Court, and it is expected to be decided in 200910. By late 2005, approximately 70% of secondary schools under the authority of the French community had introduced a hijab ban, compared with 41% in 2000. In Brussels only eight schools out of 111 allowed pupils to wear headscarf11. A number of complaints were filed with regard to school bans on headscarves. In 2006 only two secondary schools in the municipal educational system of Antwerp allowed their students to wear headscarves. More and more schools elsewhere in Flanders are introducing headscarf bans into their regulations12. The result of the governments of the French and the Flemish communities handing public schools the right to ban the hijab has been a lack of uniformity. In the individual cases that have gone to court, the courts have consistently held that the principles of equality and neutrality of state education take precedent over freedom of religion.

2.2 Burqa & Niqab
In 2003 a few municipalities introduced a ban on wearing the burqa in public places into their police regulations. This has been done through an old law prohibiting the wearing of masks in public. In 2004, the number of communes where such bans applied increased considerably to a total of more than 20 communes out of a total of 75 municipalities13. In April 2005 a woman was fined 75 euro for wearing the burqa in public14. A police inspector in Maaseik said that women wearing the burqa alarmed the locals. He said that 'you cannot identify or recognize someone when they're wearing a burqa, especially at night. It is not normal; we don't have that in our culture'15.

2.3 Civil Servants
In 2003 five public hospitals in Brussels banned their staff from wearing the headscarf16. In 2006 two hijab-wearing teachers were sacked for not complying with \"religious neutrality\" rules17. Local councils of Antwerp and Lokeren and Ghent have introduced new staff regulations prohibiting visible religious symbols. Frontdesk staff are not allowed to show external religious characteristics, like Muslim headscarves18. In 2007 The Federal Council of Education introduced a general headscarf ban for teachers, with the exception of religious education teachers who teach Islam. The authorities of the Brussels Capital Region want to pass a new staff regulation that will not allow external religious characteristics, even in back-office functions19.


3. Applicable National and International Law

3.1 National Law
Freedom of religion is provided for in (A.) 19 of the Belgian constitution. The prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion is provided for in A.s 10 and 11 of the Constitution. The anti discrimination law of 25 February 2003 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion20. In Belgium international treaties signed by Belgium, such as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), take precedence over all national legislation and can be directly enforced by judges in Belgian courts21.


3.2 International Law

3.2.1 Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 spoke of the 'advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief'. Freedom of thought, conscience and religion is considered a fundamental human right. As recognised by many international human rights treaties; UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religious Belief 1981 ('1981 Declaration'); ICCPR A. 18; and A. 9(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights;

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right
includes…freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or
private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and
observance 22.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has consistently stated that this right is at the core of a democratic society, claiming that '[i]t is, in its religious dimension, one of the most vital elements that go to make up the identity of believers and their conception of life, but it is also a precious asset for atheists, agnostics, sceptics and the unconcerned. The pluralism indissociable from a democratic society, which has been won over the centuries, depends on it' 23.

The second part of A.9(1) protects the freedom to 'manifest' ones religion or belief 'in public or in private, alone or with others'. The manifestation may include 'worship, teaching, practice or observance'. In Vereniging v Netherlands24, the European Commission of Human Rights stated 'A.9 primarily protects the sphere of personal beliefs and religious creeds….[i]n addition it protects acts which are intimately linked to these attitudes such as acts of worship or devotion which are aspects of the practice of the religion or belief in a recognised form'. Indeed, in Mannousakis v Greece25, the Court held that the right of manifestation of belief excludes the discretion of states to determine 'whether religious beliefs or the means used to express them are legitimate'.

Under A.9(2) ECHR, '[f]reedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals or for the protection of rights and freedoms of others'. Indeed, the right enshrined in A.9 is so fundamental that the limitations in A.9(2) are even narrower than those relating to the freedom of expression, association and assembly contained in the ECHR. The European Court has consistently stated that there must be a narrow construction of these limitations together with a broad interpretation of the freedoms guaranteed. Any restrictions on freedoms must be 'construed strictly' and can be justified only by 'convincing and compelling reasons' 26. Freedom of religion is also contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in A. 18, and in A. 14 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child.


3.2.2 Freedom from Discrimination
The ECHR prohibits discrimination. A.14 in conjunction with A.9 prohibits discrimination in the enjoyment of one's freedom of religion. A. 14 provides that the Convention rights 'shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status'. The European Court has stated that discrimination on the basis of certain grounds, such as race and sex, is particularly serious and has stated that 'very weighty reasons' would have to be advanced before such treatment could be regarded as compatible with the Convention27. Freedom from discrimination is also secured by A. 26 ICCPR, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Belgium has ratified both.

A ban on the hijab, turban and kippa is unfairly discriminatory towards particular ethnic groups – namely Jews, Sikhs and generally Muslims from a particular racial group.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance stated in his report in 2007 that; the prohibition of visible signs of religion in State schools and the workplace; prohibiting the wearing of the burka in the street and public places; statements claiming that the veil or the burka is antisocial; are all signs of Islamophobia and that these manifestations “attest to an insidious climate of undeclared wars between civilizations and religions which, because of their globalized images and their reciprocal effects, gradually poison and pervert movement and human, cultural and political relations at the global level, and create negative and antagonistic attitudes among the general public” 28.

The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women 1979 (CEDAW), which Belgium has ratified, provides that the term 'discrimination against women' shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women…on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms…'29. A.2 places an obligation on states to 'condemn discrimination against women in all its forms' and 'to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women…'

3.2.3 Right to Education
The right to education is recognised in many major human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (A.28) and CEDAW, which provides for equal rights for men and women in the field of education (A.10) and employment (A.11)30. UNICEF has recently reported that millions of children worldwide are still denied the basic right to education – with gender disparity ensuring that the majority of those children (65 million) are girls31, many of them being in the Arab states or sub-Saharan Africa. Perhaps it is then ironic that the ban on headscarves in public schools will deny girls access to schooling in countries of the so called 'developed' world. No child should have to choose between practicing the tenets of their faith and acquiring a basic education – yet for Muslim girls in certain European countries – this may be the stark choice that they face.

4. Scrutinising the Arguments

Against this background the arguments used to legitimatise the prohibition on religious symbols in Belgium will be scrutinised.

The Rights of Others
Introducing prohibitions on the hijab or religious symbols into school regulations are often justified by the argument that the hijab exerts religious pressure on fellow students. In particular school authorities seem concerned with the impact on other Muslim girls who do not wear the hijab. Under international law, states can only limit religious practices when there is a compelling public safety reason, when the manifestation of religious beliefs would impinge on the rights of others. However, it has not been shown that 'the right to be free from religious pressure' has indeed been infringed. Muslim headscarves, Sikh turbans, Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses do not pose a threat to public health, order or morals; they have no effect on the fundamental rights and freedoms of other students; and they do not undermine a school's educational function32. In other words, it has not been shown in what way the hijab would have such influence on fellow students. International human rights law obliges state authorities to avoid coercion in matters of religious freedom, and this obligation must be taken into account when devising school dress codes33.

The flipside of this argument is that religious students have the right to be protected from secular pressure. The pressure exerted by the institutionalized educational system, the teachers and fellow students is surely greater than the pressure by some Muslim girls wearing hijab.

Gender Equality
An important argument for banning the hijab in schools is gender equality. Perhaps due to the great importance of this concept in Europe since the 20th century, this argument is accepted at face value. This view is summed up by Senator Anne-Marie Lizin who said that the ban was needed to oppose 'Islamic sexism', as 'the veil amounts to the oppression of the individual in the name of religion'.

However, no evidence has been produced to support this stance. In the ECtHR case Leyla Sahin v Turkey, Judge Françoise Tulkens of Belgium, highlighted this utter lack of evidence in her dissent:
“What, in fact, is the connection between the [headscarf] ban and sexual equality? The judgment does not say ... . [The headscarf] does not necessarily symbolize the submission of women to men and there are those who maintain that, in certain cases, it can even be a means of emancipating women. What is lacking in this debate is the opinion of women, both those who wear the headscarf and those who choose not to.” 34

Wearing the hijab is, in most instances, an act of free, individual, informed, rational choice and agency. It can in certain circumstances be an instrument of oppression, but it is impossible to maintain that it is necessarily so in all circumstances35. There is an implied assumption in the gender equality argument that this is the case. The result is that girls and women are told that they are oppressed and are forced to sacrifice their religious beliefs in the name of freedom. This has a deep emotional, psychological impact. Girls and women are forced to choose between their religious beliefs and their education or employment. This causes disillusion and distrust for the state, alienating a generation of women.

Rights of the Child
A further argument being made to support the ban is that children's autonomy is being overridden by parents and communities who are coercing them into wearing the hijab. However, once again, there is little evidence to support this and even if this is the case - it is impossible to justify replacing parental control over a child's actions with state control over the dress of individuals of an entire section of the community. Indeed, the idea of human rights is based on the notion that for each individual there is an area of personal liberty immune from state invasion. In recognition of this principle, A.2 of the First Protocol to the ECHR (1952), to which Belgium is a signatory, '[n]o person shall be denied the right to education…the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions'. This is one example of the intention of international legislation to endorse the right of parents to protect children against the use of educational institutions by the state for ideological indoctrination of its own ideas.

It shall also be remembered that the Convention on the Rights of the Child, A. 14, guarantees a child's right to freedom of religion. Thus if a child wants to wear the hijab against her parents wishes, the state has a duty to protect and enforce her right.

Public Order arguments
The Hasselt court of first instance accepted the argument that the prohibition had been introduced as a reaction of disturbance caused by militant behaviour by a number of Muslim girls at the school defying teachers and co-pupils. The Antwerpen Court of Appeal, which dealt with the appeal of this case, also accepted this argument36. Again there is no evidence which shows a direct link between misbehaviour by pupils and the headscarf.

Security
The main argument used to justify the bans on niqab and burqa is that public safety is undermined if members of the public are allowed to hide their identity.

In the public sphere, where people go about their daily lives, there is no apparent or urgent need to ban the niqab. In fact, the ECHR requires that any limitation on the freedom of religion must be based on a pressing social need. There is no evidence that crimes are being committed by people wearing niqab or the burqa, thus hindering the course of justice. It is likely that the real motive for banning the niqab and burqa stems from a fear of the unknown. As the police inspector said, the locals were 'alarmed' by the burqa. The appropriate course of action for the public authorities would be to foster understanding between the inhabitants. Belgium in its Country Report to the Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women noted that it will promote initiatives 'that will promote the emancipation and integration of women of foreign origin, within a spirit of inter-cultural dialogue'.37 The British Judicial Studies Board's guidelines regarding niqab and burqa in woman's involvement in the criminal, civil justice, or tribunal system acknowledges that “It is important to acknowledge from the outset that for Muslim women who do choose to wear the niqab, it is an important element of their religious and cultural identity. To force a choice between that identity, and the woman…as a witness, party, member of court staff or legal office-holder may well have a significant impact on that woman's sense of dignity and would likely serve to exclude and marginalise further women with limited visibility in courts and tribunals.” 38

Neutrality arguments
This is probably the strongest argument regarding religious symbols. In Belgium, Art. 24 of the Constitution provides for the neutrality of public education and thus is generally interpreted as proscribing the wearing of religious insignia by teachers39. Interior minister Patrick Dewael said,

'[t]he government should remain neutral…in all circumstances and be represented as such…that means no distinctive religious symbols or veils for police officers, judges, clerks or teachers at public schools'40.

Arguments regarding the hijab worn by teachers and civil servants often refer to the need of a secular state educational system and public services to remain neutral. However, this is an argument about secularism in disguise. A liberal notion of secularism does not prohibit individual manifestations of religion or belief in the public sphere or even inside public institutions. On the contrary, A. 9 ECHR explicitly gives right to exercise freedom of religion in public- which can only be limited by strict criteria in A. 9.241. The argument that public institutions have to be 'neutral', meaning devoid of any religious affiliations/symbols, comes close to fundamentalist secularism, which imposes a secularist way of life on all individuals when they enter the public domain. The ECtHR has addressed the relationship between neutrality and tolerance, underlining that neutrality is meant to serve among other things the fostering of tolerance: “The Court has frequently emphasised the State's role as the neutral and impartial organiser of the exercise of various religions, faiths and beliefs, and stated that this role is conducive to public order, religious harmony and tolerance in a democratic society.” 42

In the context of education, by imposing a fictional absence of religion in schools it is arguable that the Government is simply promoting the development of uniform intolerant attitudes within young minds. It is arguable that the principle of neutrality should require, in a country enjoying actual religious peace that students can see in their own school an evidence of the religious pluralism existing in society. Allowing religious pluralism is more consistent with a neutral attitude of the State and more educative for the students, than a fictional absence of religion in the school environment43. In fact, a study for the British government has found that at all-white schools youths are more likely to believe they are superior to those from other races, and their attitudes are more of a barrier to integration than those of Muslims.44

People also argue that the hijab amounts to proselytism, and therefore violates the principle of neutrality. However this is not a legitimate reason under international human rights law to ban it from being worn. In fact, proselytism is protected under ECHR A.945. Also A.10 ECHR protects the right to 'freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference'. This right is often considered the cornerstone of personal freedom and is vigorously upheld. Indeed, the Court has stated that it 'constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man' and applies to the freedom to express an opinion, even when it might 'offend, shock or disturb'46. In reality, this is the same freedom of expression advocated by European countries which criticise states such as Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan for their human rights standards.

Conclusion
Human rights law is not specific to culture or country – it exists precisely to contradict every form of state oppression - whether it be in the name of religion or secularism. A further argument being made to support the ban is that children's autonomy is being overridden by parents and communities who are coercing them into wearing the hijab. However, once again, there is little evidence to support this and even if this is the case – it is impossible to justify replacing parental control over a child's actions with state control over the dress of individuals of an entire section of the community. Indeed, the idea of human rights is based on the notion that for each individual there is an area of personal liberty immune from state invasion. In recognition of this principle, A.2 of the First Protocol to the ECHR states, '[n]o person shall be denied the right to education…the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions'. This is one example of the intention of international legislation to endorse the right of parents to protect children against the use of educational institutions by the state for ideological indoctrination of its own ideas.

Furthermore, the long lasting results of forcibly hindering girls and women from wearing the hijab are seldom discussed. The psychological impact is likely to have a negative impact on integration, which is, after all, a two way process. Belgium cannot expect Muslim girls to become its integrated citizens while marginalizing them by effectively denying them education. Banning the hijab would lead to increased educational exclusion, lack of employment opportunities and thus social deprivation - ironically adding to the myth of the 'oppressed' Muslim woman in a veil. As for women working for public authorities, banning the hijab leads to less employment opportunities, exclusion and alienation from society. It also sets a dangerous precedent for private employers and encourages them to discriminate against women who wear the hijab. Emancipation through work is effectively hampered by such policies. In fact, in 2002 an employer unilaterally changed the employment terms of his Muslim employee, although the latter had clearly expressed her wish at the start of the contract not to be obliged to wear the summer uniform which the company imposes on its employees47. In 2006 a Belgian firm sacked one of its workers, a female receptionist who insisted on wearing the headscarf48. In 2007 the National Railway Company of Belgium decided that train conductors cannot wear hijab49. The end result would be the creation of an 'apartheid' system in the heart of Europe – discrimination against a group of citizens who are denied education (or forced into substandard educational systems) and effectively the right to work thus forcing them into a spiral of economic and social isolation.


5. Remedies

5.1 ECtHR
The ECHR has well developed enforcement machinery enabling an individual who believes his rights have been violated to bring a case before its Court in Strasbourg. Whilst an increasing number of cases are being taken to the Court, the process is not ideal – it can be costly and time consuming because all remedies before national courts must be exhausted first. Thus, even if a girl seeking to challenge the hijab ban in Belgium knows that she will not succeed in Belgium's Courts, she must take her case up to the highest Court (a process which may take years) before she is able to make an application to the European Court in Strasbourg. Furthermore, the Court receives a large number of applications and it can take several years for a case to be decided. Added to this, many cases which are lodged before the Court are declared 'inadmissible' on various criterion and therefore do not even get to the Court for a full hearing. Finally, a problem that may be of significance in this area is that a ban of religious symbols in schools concerns children. Under the ECHR, children are unable to make a claim to the Court directly – an application must be made by an adult on their behalf.

5.2 CEDAW
Under CEDAW, states must implement measures to abolish all discriminatory laws and ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination. CEDAW does not give an individual the right to complain against discriminatory treatment – it merely requires states to submit a report to its Committee at least every 4 years indicating the measures they have adopted to give effect to the provisions of the CEDAW. The Committee discusses these reports and action to be taken with the country concerned. The idea is that a report will force states to undertake a self evaluating exercise and result in an improvement in the law. The reality is that reports can often lack detail and the Committee has no force of its own to ensure that a report is submitted on time or to enforce its rulings50. This reporting mechanism has been used in the past by CEDAW to criticise the gender disparity in the social and economic treatment of women in, for example, Arab states. It remains to be seen whether such critical treatment will be voiced by UN bodies on the current prejudicial treatment of girls facing a hijab ban in European countries.

6. Conclusion

It is important to remember that it is States that have primary responsibility for enforcement of human rights standards, which must be protected first and foremost, at the national level. By its citizens, law is seen as the principle carrier of the values shared by the community and national laws must not become neglectful when it comes to the protection of individual rights. It is only where national laws fail that international law has its most crucial role to play – to step in and safeguard fundamental freedoms that would otherwise be overridden.

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ENDNOTES

  1. Page 54, W. Shadid P. S. Van Koningsveld, Muslim Dress In Europe: Debates On The Headscarf, Journal of Islamic Studies 16:1 (2005) pp 35–61
  2. Eva Brems, Antidiscriminatiewet faalt tegen hoofddoekverbod op school, De Juristenkrant, 14 september 2005, 3.
  3. Page 210, Dominic McGoldrick, Human Rights and Religion: The Islamic Headscarf Debate in Europe, Hart Publishing (2006)
  4. Wikipedia, Belgium, [Online - Accessed 12 January 2008]
  5. Page 77, CEDAW Combined fifth and sixth periodic reports of States parties Belgium, CEDAW/C/BEL/6 2007
  6. Page 55, W. Shadid P. S. Van Koningsveld, Muslim Dress In Europe: Debates On The Headscarf, Journal of Islamic Studies 16:1 (2005) pp 35–61
  7. The Times (2004), Belgium next in line as Europe's veil ban spreads. [Online - Accessed 26 November 2007]
  8. Page 7, 2004 Annual Report on Human Rights in Belgium, Human Rights Without Frontiers Int [Online]
  9. http://www.hrwf.net/belgium/ext/human_rights_in_belgium_2004.pdf [Accessed 5 October 2007]
  10. Page 407, Eva Brems, Het recht van leerlingen om een hoofddoek te dragen op school: recente ontwikkelingen, CDPK 2006, 406-414.
  11. Internet Centre Anti Racism Europe (2005), [Accessed 15 November 2007]
  12. Page 87, CEDAW Combined fifth and sixth periodic reports of States parties Belgium, CEDAW/C/BEL/6 2007
  13. Page 76, IHF report 2006 Human Rights in the OSCE Region, [Online - Accessed 25 October 2007]
  14. Page 8, 2004 Annual Report on Human Rights in Belgium, Human Rights Without Frontiers Int. [Online]
  15. Human Rights in Belgium - Accessed 5 October 2007
  16. AD (2006) Burka-verbod is succes in België, [Online]
  17. See link [Accessed 10 January 2008]
  18. page 212, Dominic McGoldrick, Human Rights and Religion: The Islamic Headscarf Debate in Europe, Hart Publishing (2006)
  19. Page 8, 2004 Annual Report on Human Rights in Belgium, Human Rights Without Frontiers Int. [Online]
  20. The Guardian (2006), The veil controversy: White pupils less tolerant, survey shows,[Online] http://education.guardian.co.uk/raceinschools/story/0,,1929207,00.html [Accessed 2 November 2007]
  21. Ali El Bouchtaoui, (2007) Minderhedenforum
  22. Minderhedenforum (2007) Persbericht: nieuwe regeling hoofddoek is pure discriminatie [Online]
  23. http://www.minderhedenforum.be/zoek.htm?zoek=26/10/2007 [Accessed 12 December 2007]
  24. Eva Brems, Antidiscriminatiewet faalt tegen hoofddoekverbod op school, De Juristenkrant, 14 september 2005, 3.
  25. Page 638, On the Permissible scope of legal limitations on the freedom of religion or belief in: Belgium, Rik Torfs, 19 Emory Int\'l L. Rev. 637 (2005)
  26. This is also guaranteed by the 1981 Declaration. Further, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious or Linguistic Minorities 1992 provides that
  27. 'States shall protect the existence and the…religious…identity of minorities within their respective territories' (A.1). Further, it provides that minorities have the 'right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion…freely and without any interference or any form of discrimination' (A.2).
  28. Kokkinakis v Greece, 25 May 1993, p.31.
  29. (1995) App. No. 16616/90
  30. 23 EHRR 387 (1996)
  31. United Communist Party of Turkey v Turkey, 30 January 1998
  32. Inze v Austria, App. No. 8695/79
  33. Paragraph 39, Report submitted by Mr. Doudou Diène, Special Rapporteur on
  34. contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance 2007, to the Fourth session of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/4/19)
  35. Article 1 CEDAW
  36. Belgium in its Country Report to the Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women noted that it will promote initiatives 'that will promote the emancipation and integration of women of foreign origin, within a spirit of inter-cultural dialogue', Combined third and fourth periodic reports, 2002, p.6
  37. State of the World's Children 2004, Ch.3.
  38. Human Rights Watch, (2004) France: Headscarf Ban Violates Religious Freedom Human rights Watch [Online]
  39. http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2004/02/26/france7666.htm [Accessed 15 November 2007]
  40. Human Rights Watch, (2004) France: Headscarf Ban Violates Religious Freedom Human rights Watch [Online]
  41. http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2004/02/26/france7666.htm [Accessed 15 November 2007]
  42. Leyla Sahin v Turkey, App. No. 44774/98, Eur. Ct. H.R. (2004)
  43. Page 14, Dominic McGoldrick, Human Rights and Religion: The Islamic Headscarf Debate in Europe, Hart Publishing (2006)
  44. Page 407, Eva Brems, Het recht van leerlingen om een hoofddoek te dragen op school: recente ontwikkelingen, CDPK 2006, 406-414.
  45. Combined third and fourth periodic reports, 2002
  46. Paragraph 3.3, Judicial Studies Board 2007, Equal Treatment Advisory Committee
  47. http://www.fed-parl.be/gwuk0002.htm#E11E2
  48. see note 5 above.
  49. Page 2, Ingvill Thorson Plesner, The European Court on Human Rights between fundamentalist and liberal secularism, Paper for the seminar on The Islamic head scarf Controversy and the Future of Freedom of Religion or Belief Strasbourg, France 28-30 July 2005
  50. page 10, Ingvill Thorson Plesner, The European Court on Human Rights between fundamentalist and liberal secularism, Paper for the seminar on The Islamic head scarf Controversy and the Future of Freedom of Religion or Belief Strasbourg, France 28-30 July 2005
  51. Page 622, Javier Martinez-Torron, Limitations On Religious Freedom In The Case Law Of The European Court Of Human Rights, 9 Emory Int\'l L. Rev. 587
  52. The Burnley Project: Evaluating The Contribution Of Interfaith Dialogue To Community Cohesion, Lancaster University, Interim Report (2006)
  53. Kokinakkis v Greece
  54. Handyside v UK (1976), para. 49
  55. Industrial tribunal, Brussels 7th chamber, 17 October 2002, Rachida v ONEM (R.G. no 40.571), J.D.J. no 220, December 2002
  56. De Standaard (2006), Geen hoofddoek op de werkvloer, [Online]
  57. http://www.standaard.be/Artikel/Detail.aspx?artikelId=GE7TT6E6&word=Group+4+Securicor+hoofddoek [Accessed 5 December 2007]
  58. De Standaard (2007), 'Conducteur mag geen hoofddoek dragen', the Manager of NMBS Marc Deschenmaecker said 'I don't have a problem with the headscarf, but a train conductor cannot wear a headscarf.' [Online]
  59. http://www.standaard.be/Artikel/Detail.aspx?artikelId=U41GUUFP&word=NMBS+hoofddoek [Accessed 5 December 2007]
  60. On a more positive note, a 'Communications Procedure' has recently been established which gives individuals and groups of women the right to address complaints directly to the Committee. Furthermore, an Inquiry procedure now enables the Committee to conduct inquiries into grave or systematic abuse of women's human rights in countries - Optional Protocol to CEDAW passed by the UN General Assembly in 1999, signed by Belgium and ratified by France and Germany.


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