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Switzerland: Burqa Ban Approved by Voters

(Apr. 16, 2021) On March 7, 2021, Swiss voters approved by a vote of 51.21%–48.79% a popular initiative that prohibits covering one’s face in public, with some enumerated exceptions. Voter turnout was 51.40%. Content of the Prohibition The initiative adds a new article 10a to the Swiss Constitution. Article 10a prohibits covering one’s face in […]

European Union: European Court of Justice Upholds Flemish Requirement to Stun Animals Before Slaughter

(Dec. 31, 2020) On December 17, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that a decree requiring that animals undergo a reversible (temporary) stunning procedure before slaughter is not an illegal infringement of freedom of religion as guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. At issue was a […]

Uzbekistan: Codes Amended to Increase Criminal and Administrative Responsibility amid Coronavirus Pandemic

(Sept. 17, 2020) On March 26, 2020, the president of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, signed a law amending the country’s criminal code, criminal procedure code, and code of administrative responsibility. The law entered into force upon publication. (Law No. 3RU-613 of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Amendments and Additions to the Criminal and […]

Sudan: New Law Amending Penal Code Takes Effect

(July 23, 2020) On July 13, 2020, the Sudanese Official Gazette published Law No. 12 of 2020, which amends 15 provisions of the Penal Code of 1991. According to Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari, the new provisions are part of Sudan’s efforts to eliminate all laws that violate human rights and “demolish any kind of discrimination […]

Germany: Constitutional Court Denies Preliminary Injunction Against COVID-19 Measures Prohibiting Religious Services

(Apr. 16, 2020) On April 10, 2020, the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) denied a preliminary injunction against a regulation to combat the novel coronavirus adopted by the state government of Hesse (Corona Regulation) that, among other things, prohibits religious gatherings in churches. Preliminary injunctions are granted when they are urgently necessary “to avert […]

Germany: Court Allows Student to Wear Niqab at School

(Feb. 25, 2020) On January 29, 2020, the Higher Administrative Court of Hamburg (OVG Hamburg) held that a 16-year old girl is allowed to attend school dressed in a niqab face veil that leaves only the area around the eyes open. The Court stated that there is no legal basis in Hamburg law for the […]

Egypt: Court Grants Christian Woman Share of Father’s Estate Equal to Share of Her Two Brothers

(Jan. 9, 2020) On November 25, 2019, the Cairo Court of Appeal granted a Christian woman a share of her late father’s inheritance equal to that of her two male brothers. The plaintiff had argued that, as a Coptic Christian, she should not be subject to Islamic law in matters related to family law. She […]

Pakistan: Sindh Province Rejects Bill Against Forced Conversions

(Nov. 15, 2019) On October 8, 2019, the Provincial Assembly of Sindh Province rejected a bill criminalizing forced religious conversions. This was the second attempt at enacting an anti-conversion law in the province—in December 2016 the Provincial Assembly passed a similar bill, but on the insistence of the provincial government, the governor did not assent […]

Netherlands: Burqa Ban Enters into Force

(Aug. 27, 2019) On August 1, 2019, the “Act Partially Prohibiting Face-Covering Clothing,”also known as the “Burqa Ban,” entered into force in the Netherlands. The Act prohibits the wearing of clothing that completely or partially conceals the face in spaces where people are expected to communicate with each other. Thus, face-covering clothing is banned on […]