Special Issue "Religious Minorities in Europe and Beyond: A Critical Appraisal in a Global Perspective"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Silvio Ferrari
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Cesare Beccaria, University of Milan, Via Festa del Perdono, 7, 20122 Milano MI, Italy
Interests: law and religion; religious minorities; comparative law of religions; relations between the Holy See and Israel
Dr. Roberta Medda-Windischer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Minority Rights, Eurac Research, 39100 Bozen, Italy
Interests: international protection of minority rights; old and new minorities; integration and human rights; diversity governance; international law and religious minorities; rom/sinti and minority protection
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Kerstin Wonisch
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Minority Rights, Eurac Research, 39100 Bozen, Italy
Interests: rights of religious minorities and the governance of religious diversity; religion, gender, and human rights; Islamic pluralism

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is our honour and great pleasure to invite you to submit to this Special Issue of Religions entitled “Religious Minorities in Europe and Beyond: A Critical Appraisal in a Global Perspective.”

The issue will be divided into two parts. The first will provide a description and a critical assessment of the legal protection and promotion of the religious minority rights in Europe, identifying the weak and strong points of the European approach. Contributions to the first part of the issue will need to take into consideration the different aspects of protection of religious minorities in Europe, such as organization of worship, public funding, registration, individual and group discrimination, etc. They will highlight, on one hand, the positive aspects existing in many European countries vis-á-vis religious minorities, and, on the other, the problematic profiles of the existing social and legal regulation of minority issues.

Contributions to the second part will look beyond Europe to see whether some of the solutions/approaches/paradigm shifts applied there can serve as lessons to us, and under which conditions (cultural, legal, political) they can be “exported” to Europe. The analysis of the issue of religious minorities in a number of selected non-European countries will help to understand whether and to what extent they can offer significant and helpful inputs to rethink and improve the European system for religious minority protection and promotion.

To the best of our knowledge, little has been written from the specific angle of “what Europe could learn from non-European experiences” in the field of religious minorities. That is why this Special Issue could fill a significant gap in the existing literature.

Prof. Dr. Silvio Ferrari
Ms. Kerstin Wonisch
Dr. Roberta Medda-Windischer
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • religious minorities
  • Europe
  • freedom of/from religion
  • non-European countries
  • discrimination
  • accommodation
  • minority rights
  • participation
  • religious diversity

Published Papers (16 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Modelling Equality in the Midst of Religious Diversity: Lessons from Beyond Europe?
Religions 2021, 12(11), 923; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12110923 - 22 Oct 2021
Viewed by 640
Abstract
The extent to which global legal systems are generated by, derived from, and adhere to European values is so widespread that it has become trite to present such an observation in conclusion to a series of high-quality essays as contained in this Special [...] Read more.
The extent to which global legal systems are generated by, derived from, and adhere to European values is so widespread that it has become trite to present such an observation in conclusion to a series of high-quality essays as contained in this Special Issue [...] Full article
Editorial
Religious Minorities in Europe: A Memory Mutates
Religions 2021, 12(11), 918; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12110918 - 21 Oct 2021
Viewed by 451
Abstract
In 1843, in Paris, Karl Marx wrote the article Zur Judenfrage (On the Jewish Question) (Marx and Engels 1975, p [...] Full article
Editorial
Tying the Knot: A Holistic Approach to the Enhancement of Religious Minority Rights and Freedom of Religion
Religions 2021, 12(9), 689; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090689 - 27 Aug 2021
Viewed by 639
Abstract
The debate on religious minority rights has long been stranded in the shallows of a sterile juxtaposition between the politics of sameness and the politics of difference [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Article
The Idea of Religious Minorities and Social Cohesion in India’s Constitution: Reflections on the Indian Experience
Religions 2021, 12(11), 910; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12110910 - 21 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 652
Abstract
India has many religious groups, of which Hindus are a majority, and Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains are minorities. India’s Constitution, adopted in 1950, departed from the existing norms of secularism in Europe and elsewhere, which suggested a strict separation of religion [...] Read more.
India has many religious groups, of which Hindus are a majority, and Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains are minorities. India’s Constitution, adopted in 1950, departed from the existing norms of secularism in Europe and elsewhere, which suggested a strict separation of religion and state. Moreover, freedom of religion is a Fundamental Right guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. With its distinct model of secularism and special provisions for religious minorities, India’s social cohesion arrangement needs special attention. On one hand, the distinct understanding of secularism in the Indian context has led to the advancement of religious pluralism. At the same time, it has invited criticism for selective intervention in the affairs of religious communities from governments in power. The selective intervention has challenged the exclusivity of Indian secularism. This article evaluates the constitutional and theoretical ideas underlying provisions on religious minorities and freedom of religion enshrined in the Indian Constitution. It appraises the idea of religious minorities enshrined in the constitution through a discussion of the process that shaped the idea. The article reflects on the Indian experience of managing the rights of religious minorities and freedom of religion. By analysing a landmark judgement related to freedom of religion and the rights of religious minorities, the article evaluates whether the Indian Constitution advances a model of social cohesion by balancing freedom of religion and the rights of religious minorities or remains ineffective in achieving the same. Full article
Article
Freedom of Religion and Minority Rights in South Africa
Religions 2021, 12(10), 901; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100901 - 19 Oct 2021
Viewed by 461
Abstract
The South African Constitution contains an extensive list of rights, several of which are relevant, directly or indirectly, to accommodate the needs of persons that belong to a religious minority group in South Africa. This article examines the extent to which these protections [...] Read more.
The South African Constitution contains an extensive list of rights, several of which are relevant, directly or indirectly, to accommodate the needs of persons that belong to a religious minority group in South Africa. This article examines the extent to which these protections are utilized by individuals and courts and explores the interplay between these various sources of protection that religious minority groups and their members can rely on. It will examine the courts’ case law on freedom of religion to determine whether the courts have relied on one or all of the rights offered by the Constitution when dealing with claims made by persons belonging to a religious minority group. The reasons for and impacts of the choices that the courts have made will also be investigated. Equally important are the choices made by persons belonging to a religious minority group when approaching courts to vindicate their rights. Full article
Article
Religious Minorities in Asia: Between the Scylla of Minority Protection and Charybdis of Religious Freedom Rights?
Religions 2021, 12(10), 881; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100881 - 14 Oct 2021
Viewed by 461
Abstract
This article examines the intersection of religious freedom and minority protection within the Asian context. It argues that, to the extent that a focus on minority protection draws greater attention to the collective and communitarian dimensions of religious practice, it has the potential [...] Read more.
This article examines the intersection of religious freedom and minority protection within the Asian context. It argues that, to the extent that a focus on minority protection draws greater attention to the collective and communitarian dimensions of religious practice, it has the potential to enrich the discourse on religious freedom protection. I identify three areas of possible convergence—first, where a minority-focused regime leads to a richer understanding of the intersections between culture, language, and religion; secondly, where a focus on minority protection leads to positive measures by the state to protect religious minorities; and thirdly, where a minority regime founds a right of religious minorities to political participation. Nonetheless, I will also point out that there are limits to minority protection. It may even be a double-edged sword, as it serves to reify differences with the rest of society and risks permanently marginalizing the group as a minority. This could be the case even if there are institutional designs, formal or informal, to provide for religious minorities’ political participation. Full article
Article
The Struggle of Indigenous Peoples to Maintain Their Spirituality in Latin America: Freedom of and from Religion(s), and Other Threats
Religions 2021, 12(10), 869; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100869 - 13 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 546
Abstract
This article argues that the (Western-oriented) right to religion has been proven inadequate in protecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights. It recognizes that this is partly because of the distinctive characteristics of Indigenous religions, which differ from other dominant religions, but also because of the [...] Read more.
This article argues that the (Western-oriented) right to religion has been proven inadequate in protecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights. It recognizes that this is partly because of the distinctive characteristics of Indigenous religions, which differ from other dominant religions, but also because of the way in which religion has been used by colonialism with dramatic effects on Indigenous Peoples and their beliefs, spiritualities, and worldviews. The article focuses on Latin America to argue further that in addition to colonialism, the early Constitutions also attacked Indigenous religions. As Indigenous rights are more acknowledged in Latin America, we take this region as an excellent, albeit painful, example of how Indigenous religions have been pushed aside even in the most positive contexts. The article uses the constitutional and legal arrangements in Latin American states, mainly Ecuador and Bolivia, to critically assess the protection that these favorable to Indigenous Peoples legal systems’ guarantee to Indigenous rights despite a persistent implementation gap. Also, this article highlights the weaknesses of the international system in mitigating the manifold threats that Indigenous Peoples have to face on a daily basis in their struggle to maintain and transmit their religions and spirituality, including the assault of other religions and sects into their communities and the so-called neo-extractivism. The article finally draws some concluding remarks and recommendations on how to improve the freedom of and violations from religion(s) of Indigenous Peoples in the context of Latin America as well as international law more broadly. Full article
Article
Freedom of Religion and the Accommodation of Religious Diversity: Multiculturalising Secularism
Religions 2021, 12(10), 868; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100868 - 13 Oct 2021
Viewed by 894
Abstract
The classical liberal concern for freedom of religion today intersects with concerns of equality and respect for minorities, of what might be loosely termed ‘multiculturalism’. When these minorities were primarily understood in terms of ethno-racial identities, multiculturalism and freedom of religion were seen [...] Read more.
The classical liberal concern for freedom of religion today intersects with concerns of equality and respect for minorities, of what might be loosely termed ‘multiculturalism’. When these minorities were primarily understood in terms of ethno-racial identities, multiculturalism and freedom of religion were seen at that time as quite separate policy and legal fields. As ethno-religious identities have become central to multiculturalism (and to rejections of multiculturalism), specifically in Western Europe in relation to its growing Muslim settlements, not only have the two fields intersected, new approaches to religion and equality have emerged. We consider the relationship between freedom of religion and ethno-religious equality, or alternatively, religion as faith or conscience and religion as group identity. We argue that the normative challenges raised by multicultural equality and integration cannot be met by individualist understandings of religion and freedom, by the idea of state neutrality, nor by laicist understandings of citizenship and equality. Hence, a re-thinking of the place of religion in public life and of religion as a public good and a re-configuring of political secularism in the context of religious diversity is necessary. We explore a number of pro-diversity approaches that suggest what a respectful and inclusive egalitarian governance of religious diversity might look like, and consider what might be usefully learnt from other countries, as Europe struggles with a deeper diversity than it has known for a long time. The moderate secularism that has historically evolved in Western Europe is potentially accommodative of religious diversity, just as it came to be of Christian churches, but it has to be ‘multiculturalised’. Full article
Article
How to Strengthen Protection of (Religious) Minorities and Cultural Diversity under EU Law: Some Lessons from Human Rights Protection System
Religions 2021, 12(10), 864; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100864 - 13 Oct 2021
Viewed by 508
Abstract
The paper is split into two parts. The first part starts with the analysis of Views adopted by the UN Human Rights Committee on Yaker and Hebbadi v. France cases concerning the French Act prohibiting the concealment of the face in public. [...] Read more.
The paper is split into two parts. The first part starts with the analysis of Views adopted by the UN Human Rights Committee on Yaker and Hebbadi v. France cases concerning the French Act prohibiting the concealment of the face in public. These Views are then compared with the judgment S.A.S. v. France delivered by the European Court of Human Rights on a similar case. This comparison shows that the principle of non-discrimination and, in this vein, intersectional discrimination play a critical role in assuring the effective protection of Muslim women wearing religious clothing. Analysis of S.A.S. is completed by highlighting the most relevant weaknesses of religious minority protection in the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. Some references are also made to freedom of religious clothing in the workplace, underling the critical role that can be played in this regard by the duty of reasonable accommodation. The second part identifies the most significant shortcomings characterizing the protection of religious minorities under European Union law. In conclusion, this paper tries to highlight which lessons can be learnt from the human rights system—examined in the first part—in order to strengthen minority protection in the EU. Full article
Article
On Aims, Means, and Unintended Consequences: The Case of Molla Sali
Religions 2021, 12(10), 859; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100859 - 12 Oct 2021
Viewed by 355
Abstract
This contribution speaks to this Special Issue’s guiding question of how the approach to freedom of religion and minority protection can be combined to foster the protection of religious communities and their members by examining a particular European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) [...] Read more.
This contribution speaks to this Special Issue’s guiding question of how the approach to freedom of religion and minority protection can be combined to foster the protection of religious communities and their members by examining a particular European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) case that provokes a contrasting question: ‘What happens when provisions for religious minority protection lead to the violation rather than protection of members’ rights?’ That case is Molla Sali v. Greece (2018), in which the ECtHR addressed the claim of a member of a Muslim minority community whose membership in that community subjected her—involuntarily—to the authority of sharia law over inheritance matters. The case serves as a foundation from which to explore the ECtHR’s engagements with the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, an exploration which helps bring to the fore the problems around the concept of ‘voluntary’ opting into identification with a minority identity when the latter entails some form of disadvantage. Women, in particular, due to family and peer pressures, are vulnerable to such disadvantage in contexts such as that from which the case of Molla Sali arises. Thus, the case invites discussion of various ways in which individual and group rights may come into conflict and considers minority rights specifically in relation to other human rights. Full article
Article
Religious Minority Identity in the Work of the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities: A Multifaceted Challenge in Evolution
Religions 2021, 12(10), 858; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100858 - 12 Oct 2021
Viewed by 398
Abstract
The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) of the Council of Europe counts more than 20 years of existence in the European human rights landscape. Normatively, the protection of minority religious identity is embedded in three main articles of the [...] Read more.
The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) of the Council of Europe counts more than 20 years of existence in the European human rights landscape. Normatively, the protection of minority religious identity is embedded in three main articles of the convention: first, under Articles 7 and 8, which outline a general right to freedom of religion, but also under Article 6, which considers religious minority rights for “new” minorities as related to tolerance. The analysis that follows here will unfold in three stages: the first stage will engage with the crucial issue of the scope of protection of the FCNM and how this relates to the protection of religious minority rights contained in the convention in today’s European societies. The second stage will focus on the main relevant articles of the FCNM that concern religious freedom. Starting with Articles 7 and 8 of the FCNM that focus on the religious rights of minorities stricto sensu, the discussion will then extend to Articles 5 and 6 of the FCNM due to their relevance to the exercise of religious rights by minorities in their cultural and diversity management dimensions. This extension is necessary to illustrate the current implications of religious identity for minority–majority relations. Methodologically, the study relies heavily on a detailed survey of the four completed cycles of monitoring, mapping the typology of issues pertaining to religious minorities as encountered by the Advisory Committee to the FCNM (ACFC) in the monitored states. The final stage of the analysis will provide some concluding thoughts on the general contribution of the ACFC towards standard setting on religious freedom in the European context. Full article
Article
Islam under the Rule of Law in Europe: How Consistent Is the Human Rights Test?
Religions 2021, 12(10), 857; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100857 - 12 Oct 2021
Viewed by 448
Abstract
This contribution draws attention to human rights as an instrument of justice to deal with requests that are either made directly or may prove indirectly to be relevant to Muslims who claim the protection of freedom of religion and faith in contemporary European [...] Read more.
This contribution draws attention to human rights as an instrument of justice to deal with requests that are either made directly or may prove indirectly to be relevant to Muslims who claim the protection of freedom of religion and faith in contemporary European societies. The analysis is distributed over two distinct but complementary illustrations of such claims. The position defended here is that the key to a successful multicultural society lies in enabling adherents of all religions and beliefs, and thus also Muslims, to participate to the same extent, fully and actively, in social life, both as citizens and as private individuals. The challenge lies in finding the balance between looking after the interests of the majority society and meeting the needs and wishes of minority groups and communities, including those communities that are perceived to be ‘new’. Full article
Article
EU Law’s Half-Hearted Protection of Religious Minorities Minority Specific Rights and Freedom of Religion for All
Religions 2021, 12(10), 830; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100830 - 02 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 464
Abstract
This article begins with some reflections on the definition of religious minorities, their needs and rights and how this relates to the discussion about the need for minority specific rights in addition to general fundamental rights as rights for all human beings irrespective [...] Read more.
This article begins with some reflections on the definition of religious minorities, their needs and rights and how this relates to the discussion about the need for minority specific rights in addition to general fundamental rights as rights for all human beings irrespective of particular identity features. Secondly, an overall account of the ambiguous relationship between religious minorities and fundamental rights is presented. The third and most extensive section zooms in on the EU and religious minorities, starting with an account of the EU’s general approach towards minorities and then turning to the protection of fundamental rights of religious minorities in/through the EU legal order. First, the EU’s engagement with minority specific rights and the extent to which these norms have been attentive to religious themes will be discussed. Second, the CJEU’s case law concerning freedom of religion and the prohibition of dis-crimination as general human rights is analysed. The conclusion then turns to the overall perspective and discusses whether the EU’s protection of religious minorities’ fundamental rights can be considered ‘half-hearted’ and, if so, to what extent. This in turn allows us to return to the overall focus of the Special Issue, namely the relationship between the freedom of religion for all and special rights for religious minorities. Full article
Article
Protecting Linguistic and Religious Minorities: Looking for Synergies among Legal Instruments
Religions 2021, 12(9), 706; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090706 - 31 Aug 2021
Viewed by 569
Abstract
Language and religion are two main cultural markers of collective identities and articulating factors at play in the majority-minority game. However, from a legal and political point of view, language and religion work very differently as factors for determining minorities. This is due, [...] Read more.
Language and religion are two main cultural markers of collective identities and articulating factors at play in the majority-minority game. However, from a legal and political point of view, language and religion work very differently as factors for determining minorities. This is due, on the one hand, to their different connection with public bodies and, on the other hand, to the different role played by the two identity markers, more substantive in the case of religion and more instrumental in the case of language. Different forms of protection of linguistic and religious diversity and minorities have been developed so far. The two fields of protection have evolved separately and there has hardly been any dialogue between them. This article aims to analyze whether and how the usual forms of protection of linguistic diversity and linguistic minorities can be useful for the management of religious-based diversity or minorities. In this respect, linguistic diversity management draws more inspiration from religious diversity management techniques than the reverse. Nevertheless, a number of techniques that have been applied to the linguistic diversity protection may also play a potential role for the protection of religious diversity, opening the door to further synergies among legal instruments. Full article
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Article
New and Old Religious Minorities in International Law
Religions 2021, 12(9), 698; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090698 - 30 Aug 2021
Viewed by 528
Abstract
In a time of growing transformations of the definition of religious minorities, the chapter aims to investigate the different trajectories of development of this topic in international law. To explore this issue, I propose an analysis divided into four paragraphs corresponding to the [...] Read more.
In a time of growing transformations of the definition of religious minorities, the chapter aims to investigate the different trajectories of development of this topic in international law. To explore this issue, I propose an analysis divided into four paragraphs corresponding to the evolution of religious minorities’ rights (the traditional definition; the enlargement; the inclusion; the intersection). The chapter aims to develop the following contents: (a) an analysis of the traditional criteria defining religious minorities in international documents between 1947 and 1985; (b) a model of investigation of new religious minorities within specific trajectories of transformation of this category (implementation; inclusion; intersection); (c) a vocabulary test concerning the innovations in the linguistic approach to religious minorities; (d) the effects of the different dynamics of innovation on the rights of religious minorities. Full article
Article
Religious Minorities’ Rights in International Law: Acknowledging Intersectionality, Enhancing Synergy
Religions 2021, 12(9), 691; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090691 - 27 Aug 2021
Viewed by 594
Abstract
International human rights law on minorities sets forth a complex system of provisions affecting religious groups; still, the question of defining religious minorities remains largely unsettled. While assessing the legal framework of protection established under the UN system, this article explores the current [...] Read more.
International human rights law on minorities sets forth a complex system of provisions affecting religious groups; still, the question of defining religious minorities remains largely unsettled. While assessing the legal framework of protection established under the UN system, this article explores the current debate drawing on the two key concepts of intersectionality and synergy. The intersectionality approach suggests that belonging to a religious minority cannot be dissociated from other features defining personal and groups’ identities (e.g., culture, ethnic origin, gender, language) and that this distinctive quality marks the multiple forms of violations and cross-cutting discriminations of which religious minorities are often victims. On the other hand, the synergy approach implies a comprehensive understanding of the legal sources protecting individual freedom of conscience and religion as well as religious minorities. Moreover, it entails fruitful cooperation among the relevant institutional and civil actors and the need for inclusive participation of persons belonging to religious minorities in democratic decision-making processes to the aim of the accomplishment of equal and full enjoyment of their human rights. Full article
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