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Directions in Religious Pluralism in Europe: Examining Grassroots Mobilisations in Europe in the Shadow of European Court of Human Rights Religious Freedom Jurisprudence (GRASSROOTSMOBILISE)
Start date: Jan 1, 2014, End date: Dec 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The European public square has, in the last twenty years and increasingly so, been inundated with controversies around the place of religion in the public sphere. Issues such as freedom of religious expression, freedom of speech v. blasphemy, and the public display of religious symbols loom large in the workplace, in schools, in media coverage etc., at the local, national, and supranational level. The presence of Islam has been a catalyst for many debates on religion in Europe, but these have now grown to encompass much broader assumptions about the nature of religious communities, their relationship to state institutions, and the place of minority religious communities in society. Against this backdrop the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) adds its own voice and significantly influences the terms of the debates. This project examines the domestic impact of the ECtHR religion case law: it explores the mobilisation of local and national level actors in the wake of a number of high-profile ECtHR religious freedom cases in order to determine the nature and extent of European juridical influence on religious pluralism. In light of scholarly debates questioning the direct effects of courts, the project probes developments that take place ‘in the shadow’ of the Court. It engages especially with the extent to which court decisions define the ‘political opportunity structures’ and the discursive frameworks within which citizens act. What is the aftermath of the Court’s religion jurisprudence in terms of its applications at the grassroots level? The question is important because ECtHR case law will shape, to a large extent, both local and national level case law and – less conspicuously but no less importantly – grassroots developments in the promotion of or resistance to religious pluralism. Both the latter will, in turn, influence the future of the ECtHR caseload. The project will thus impart rare insight into directions being taken in religious pluralism in Europe.
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