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Italy: Weapons Violation Case Raises Religious Freedom and Assimilation Issues

(June 13, 2017) On March 31, 2017, the Supreme Court of Italy (Corte di Cassazione), in affirming a lower court conviction of an immigrant charged with a weapons violation he carried for religious reasons, issued a decision declaring that immigrants who have chosen to live in the Western world have the “obligation to conform themselves […]

Turkey: Court Rules that Child Can Be Exempted from Compulsory Religious Classes

(Mar. 30, 2017) It was reported on March 15, 2017, that a court in Turkey’s southern province of Antalya had issued a decision stating that “compulsory religion classes are ‘openly against the law.’” The ruling was in response to a complaint filed by an atheist family seeking to have their child, “E.D.,” exempted from compulsory […]

Germany: Parliament Debates Burqa and Niqab Ban for Civil Servants and Soldiers

(Mar. 22, 2017) On March 9, 2017, the German Bundestag (parliament) debated a draft act that would prohibit federal civil servants performing official duties and soldiers in general from wearing full body and face veils (burqas) and face veils (niqab).  Exceptions would be allowed for medical reasons (protection against infections) or for official purposes.  The […]

Switzerland: Upper House of Parliament Rejects Burqa and Niqab Ban

(Mar. 15, 2017) On March 9, 2017, the Swiss Council of States (upper house of Parliament) rejected by a vote of 26 to 9, with 4 abstentions, a parliamentary initiative to ban the full body and face veil (burqa) and the face veil (niqab) and amend the Swiss Constitution accordingly.  The Council of States is […]

Iran: Charter on Citizens’ Rights Signed

(Feb. 28, 2017) With the aim of “recovering and promoting citizens’ rights,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, under his constitutional authority to “determine the program and policies of the government,” signed the Charter on Citizens’ Rights in a ceremony on December 19, 2016.  (Rouhani Unveils Charter on Civil Rights; Vagueness Regarding “Enforcement Guarantee,” VOA (Dec. 19, […]

Sweden: Jehovah’s Witnesses Have Right to State Funding

(Feb. 24, 2017) On February 20, 2017, the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court decided that Jehovah’s Witnesses have the right to state funding and that not providing such support would violate articles 14 and 19 of the European Convention on Human Rights. (Case No. 2310-16, Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen [Swedish Supreme Administrative Court], Feb. 20, 2017, HÖGSTA FÖRVALTNINGSDOMSTOLEN […]

ECtHR/Switzerland: Compulsory Co-Ed Swim Classes Do Not Infringe Freedom of Religion

(Jan. 24, 2017) On January 10, 2017, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held unanimously that a decision of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, which upheld an administrative fine for the refusal of Muslim parents to send their 9- and 11-year-old daughters to compulsory co-ed swim lessons as part of their schooling, did not […]

Sweden: Separate Swimming Hours by Gender Justifiable

(Jan. 12, 2017) The Swedish Diskrimineringsombudsmannen (DO, Equality Ombudsman) has issued two decisions on the legality of separate hours for men and women at public indoor pools. (Press Release, Könsseparerade simhallstider kan vara diskriminering [Gender-Segregated Pool Hours May Be Discriminatory], DO website (Dec. 14, 2016).) The role of the Equality Ombudsman is regulated by the […]

Pakistan: Sindh Provincial Assembly Passes New Law Prohibiting Forced Religious Conversion

(Dec. 22, 2016) On November 24, 2016, the provincial assembly of Pakistan’s Sindh Province passed a new law called the Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Act, 2015, which prohibits forced religious conversions.  (Hufsa Chaudhry & Imtiaz Mugheri, Sindh Assembly Adopts Bill Against Forced Religious Conversions, DAWN (Nov. 24, 2016).) The private bill was proposed in December […]

Pakistan: Sindh Provincial Assembly Passes Law to Establish Commission for Protection of Minority Rights

(Dec. 19, 2016) In what Assembly-member Nand Kumar Goklani called “a victory for the entire province,” Pakistan’s Sindh Province Assembly has unanimously adopted a private bill to establish a commission to protect the rights of religious minorities.  (Sindhi Assembly Stamps Commission for Minorities, NATION (Nov. 18, 2016).)  The Sindh Minorities Rights Commission Bill, 2015, was […]