News and Opinions from and about Europe: 21 May – 17 August 2011

Please click the date to review the entire news item. Note that the opinions expressed in articles, or biases reflected in news items, do not necessarily reflect opinions or attitudes of members of the Strasbourg Consortium. We strive for balance in presenting issues of potential interest to our readers and invite their responses and suggestions.

17 August 2011.  French businessman pays Belgium face veil fines.  (Ben Deighton and Elizabeth Piper, Reuters)

16 August 2011.  Are human rights to blame for the riots?  (Adam Wagner, UK Human Rights Blog)

16 August 2011.  EHRC launches consultation on submissions in religious discrimination case.  (Laura Chamberlain, Personnel Today)

16 August 2011.  Tajikistan:  Ban on children in worship “once Ramadan is over”?  (Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service)

14 August 2011.  Amid rise of multiculturalism, Dutch confront their questions of identity.  (Steven Erlanger, New York Times)

13 August 2011.  A ‘Christian’ Europe without Christianity. (David Gibson, Religion News Service via the Huffington Post)

12 August 2011.  European court allows ADF to intervene in multiple UK religious discrimination cases; former Slovakian prime minister will join ADF in defending rights of conscience.  (Press Release, Alliance Defense Fund)

11 August 2011.  United Nations affirms the human right to blaspheme.  (Austin Dacey, Religion Dispatches)

8 August 2011.  Having a satellite dish ‘is a human right,’ says European court.  (Ian Drury, Mail Online)

6 August 2011.  Dangers of belief-based workplace opt-outs.  (Savi Hensman, Ekklesia)

5 August 2011.  Armenian government approves payment to Bayatyan applicant as ordered by the ECtHR.  (

5 August 2011.  National Secular Society given leave to intervene at ECHR in religious discrimination cases.  (NSS Press Release) 

5 August 2011.  MP support for Christians sparks anger in gay-rights groups.  (Dartmouth Chronicle)

4 August 2011.  Belarus:  “Inmates are afraid of exercising their religious freedom rights.”  (Olga Glace, Forum 18 News Service)

3 August 2011.  United Nations adopts the ECLJ’s recommendations, Shari’a law restrictions prohibited.  (Tiffany Barans, ACLJ/United Nations)

3 August 2011.  Legitimising intolerance?  (Farah Khalid Khan, The Nation – Pakistan)

3 August 2011.  Tajikistan bars minors from entering mosques.  (Associated Press)

2 August 2011.  Italy ‘burqa ban’ approved by parliamentary committee. (

2 August 2011. Uzbekistan: “Spiritually rich and for freedom of conscience and religion”?  (Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service)

1 August 2011. An in-depth discussion for JCU International Communication Institute’s Third Forum: Freedom of Expression, Democracy, and Religion. (John Cabot University Press Release)

28 July 2011.  Kazakhstan: “One nation – one religion”?  (Musfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service)

27 July 2011. The Alevis’ new Westward strategy. (Sedat Ergin, Hürriyet Daily News)

27 July 2011.  Azerbaijan:  Warned for meeting without state permission, legal status applications still delayed. (Felix Corely, Forum 18 News Service)

26 July 2011. Commentary: Bayatyan – a European Court judgment with an impact far beyond Armenia. (Derek Brett, Conscience and Peace Tax International, Forum 18 News Service)

25 July 2011.  Norwegian Adventist leader says hate must not prevail following attacks.  (Adventist News Network)

25 July 2011. MP Mike Hancock withdraws from religious motion after ‘homophobic’ row.  (Rory O’Keefe, The Portsmouth News)

25 July 2011.  Vatican recalls ambassador to Ireland amid uproar.  (Victor Simpson, Associated Press)

25 July 2011.  Russia: Criminal cases against “unknown persons” lodged “to prevent lawyers ‘meddling'”?  (Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service)

22 July 2011.  French alarm over threats to separation of church and state.  (National Secular Society, UK)

22 July 2011. Opposes resolution on Turkish genocide. (Nermin Kitaplioglu,

22 July 2011.  Labour MP: Compromises for anti-gay staff are “outrageous.” (Jessica Gray, PinkNews)

July 2011, Roundtable Discussion. Would an official Sunday “day of rest” alienate believers who observe a different day of worship?  (Liberty Magazine)

21 July 2011.  Tajikistan: “Religious activity is only banned up to the age of 18.” (Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service)

20 July 2011. Banning burqa and niqab will lead to further discrimination says human-rights body. (Cillian Donnelly, New Europe)

20 July 2011.  Penalising women who wear the burqa does not liberate them.  (Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner.cws.coe)

20 July 2011.  A leap of faith? (Alasdair Henderson, UK Human Rights Blog)

19 July 2011.  Russia: “Extremism” prosecutions continue, but Supreme Court advises caution.  (Felix Corley, Forum 19 News Service)

19 July 2011.  Equal under the law unless …. (Judge Luigi Totsi appeals to the European Court of Human Rights).  (Angelo van Schaik, Radio Netherlands Worldwide)

18 July 2011.  The Institute on Religion and Public Policy calls on the President of Hungary not to sign newly adopted religion law.  (THE INSTITUTE press release)

18 July 2011.  Some thoughts on the current crisis of the concept of “religious liberty.” (Grégor Puppinck, Turtle Bay and Beyond

18 July 2011.  Austrian court okays head-colander in driver’s license: Is Pastafarianism becoming a religion?  (Joseph Laycock, Religion Dispatches)

18 July 2011.  MPs:  Equality body’s defence of religious liberty ‘long overdue.’  (The Christian Institute)

15 July 2011.  Irish government plans frontal assault on confessional secrecy.  (

14 July 2011.  Belgium to enforce burqa ban from next week.  (RET News)

14 July 2011.  EHRC seeks permission to intervene in the European Court of Human Rights and proposes “reasonable accommodation” for religion in the workplace.  (Employers Forum on Belief)

14 July 2011.  EHRC attempts at clarity muddy the religious waters, spark a huge row.  (Cath Everett, HR Zone)

14 July  2011.  Opinion: Wilders’ acquittal is the best outcome.  (Gerold Hagens, The Jurist)

14 July 2011.  Armenia: “A kind of theatrical farce – I see no progress.” (Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service)

13 July 2011.  Developer of Bucharest Cathedral Plaza building to file suit to ECHR.  (Act Media

13 July 2011.  The EHRC’s stance on religious rights undermines its credibility.  (Andrew Copson, The

13 July 2011.  Editorial:  A brave new Britain.  (John Hirst, New Europe)

12 July 2011.  Hungarian parliament resurrects Soviet past with midnight adoption of Europe’s most restrictive religion law. (THE INSTITUTE press release, Christian Newswire

12 July 2011.  Armenia: “It would have ended badly, for them and for us.”  (Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service)

12 July 2011.  Equality Commission’s intervention in Christian legal cases “wholly disproportionate.” (British Humanist Association Press Release)

12 July 2011.  Humanists and gays fear EHRC intervention.  (The Christian Institute)

12 July 2011.  U.K. equality commission backs religious claims. (BBC News) (Mail Online) (The Christian Institute) (Secularist response)

11 July 2011.  Judges “too narrow” on bias claims. (The Belfast Telegraph) [EHRC Proposal]

9 July 2011.  Amnesty International: Azerbaijan, Turkey must introduce alternative military service. (Armenian News)

9 July 2011.  Members of the Opus Dei to be taken to court.  (Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers)

8 July 2011.   The new draft law on religion criticized by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union / Freedom of religion or belief defenders ask the Hungarian authorities not to adopt the draft law on religion on 11 July 2011.  (Willy Fautré et al.)

8 July 2011. Strasbourg minaret ruling causes no surprise.  (Julia Slater and Alexander Künzle,

8 July 2011.  Legal move against Swiss minaret ban thrown out.  (Urs Geiser,

7 July 2011.  Armenia: European Court finds conscientious objector was wrongfully convicted and jailed – but what will government do? (Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service)

7 July 2011.  Iraq abuse ruling by European court says U.K failed human rights role. (Owen Bowcott,

6 July 2011 (from 27 May).  The Council of Europe’s requirements for Ukraine’s Legislation on Religious Freedom: Between truth and falsehood.  (Oleksandr Zaiets, Religious Information Service Ukraine)

5 July 2011.  Proposed law in Hungary could jeopardize small, new religions. (Adventist News Network)

5 July 2011.  Kazakhstan: “Absurd” criminal charge for praying for the sick. (Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service)

4 July 2011. Belgium: The draft law on abuse of weakness is dangerous despite its good intentions. (Willy Fautré, Human Right Without Frontiers)

4 July 2011. Belarus: “Clergy access is something exceptional in pre-trial detention centres.”  (Olga Glace, Forum 18 News Service)

4 July 2011. Video: Religious liberty in Britain hit by equality – Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks. (The Christian Institute)

2 July 2011. Cutting the fog: Multiculturalism, religion and the common good. (Sara Silvestri, London, Global Experts)

1 July 2011. Proposed changes to Austrian religious law represent a major step backwards. (The Institute on Religion and Public Policy)

1 July 2011. Russian court bans Scientology books.  (Associated Press)

30 June 2011.  Court: French tax of Jehovah’s Witnesses hinders rights. (

30 June 2011.  Religious liberty advocates wary of Europe’s proposed work-free Sundays.  (Adventist News Network)

30 June 2011.  Chief Rabbi: Equality laws leading to new Mayflower exodus from UK.  (Tim Ross, The Telegraph)

30 June 2011.  Russia:  Muslim teacher receives 18-month sentence and heavy fine. (Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service)

29 June 2011. FRA releases Anti-Semitism Summary overview of the situation in the European Union 2001-2010.  (

29 June 2011.  Russia: “One complex of measures against religious communities.” (Felix Corley and Rosemary Griffin, Forum 18 News Service)

28 June 2011.  French woman sues Opus Dei over brainwashing. (Agence-France Press

28 June 2011.  The World Council of Churches, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the World Evangelical Alliance release Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct.

28 June 2011.  Dutch parliament (lower house) votes to ban religious slaughter of animals. (Ivana Sekularac, Reuters)

28 June 2011.  Police in Tajikistan continue to try to suppress unregistered Muslim education throughout the country. (Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service)

27 June 2011.  World Evangelical Alliance set to release recommendations for global evangelism conduct, in Geneva on 28 June.  (Anugrah Kumar, The Christian Post)

27 June 2011.  Russian legislation takes aim at Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. (Tom Balmforth, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

27 June 2011.  Turkey:  Can a new constitution solve religious freedom problems? (Mine Yildirim, Researcher at the Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University, Forum 18 News Service)

27 June 2011.  Religious Freedom as a Human Right: European Commission Investigation.  (Fr John Flynn, Zenit reported in Anglican Mainstream)

27 June 2011.  Geert Wilders, a Voltaire for our times?  (Thierry Baudet, Presseurop)

26 June 2011.  Letter from America: Wilders aqcuittal in the show trial.  (Dr. Habib Siddiqui (Philadelphia), in Asian Tribune)

24 June 2011. Kyrgyzstan: Jail terms for Jehovah’s Witnesses overturned, but investigation continues.  (Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service)

23 June 2011.  Dutch court acquits anti-Islam politican.  (David Jolly, The New York Times) (The Jurist)

22 June 2011.  “Stigmatisation of persons based on religions is a pressing human rights concern,” says Maldives UN Human Rights Ambassador Adam. (Ahmed Nazeer, Minivan News)

22 June 2100. Tajikistan: Bans on children’s religious activity, illegal meetings, and “extremist religious” teaching close? (Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service)

22 June 2011. ECtHR is not and should not be seen as a substitute for the individual’s right of access to a remedy from domestic courts in Scotland and the UK, says Scottish Human Rights Commission. (Reevel Alderson, BBC News Scotland)

21 June 2011.  Gay people to picket Russian embassy in London, demand Russia’s voting rights at the Council of Europe be revoked.  (Rex Wockner, Bay Windows

21 June 2011. Russia: Muslim’s appeal begins, Jehovah’s Witness’ second trial to begin. (Felix Corley, Forum 18)

21 June 2011. First transatlantic anti-Islamization conference coming to France July 2. (PR Newswire)

17 June 2011.  Human rights law is demolishing Britain’s immigration controls, Government papers reveal.Supreme Court judge appeals to the European Court of Human Rights to stop trying to force laws on UK. (James Slack, Daily Mail)

17 June 2011.  ECtHR head admits Islamophobia rising in Europe. (Ivaylo Spasov, Press TV )

17 June 2011.  French burka ban descends into farce. (Peter Allen, The Telegraph)

16 June 2011.  How Russians survived militant atheism to embrace God.  (Walter Rodgers, Christian Science Monitor)

16 June 2011. The growing toll of gay hate attacks. (Rob Virtue,

16 June 2011. Video: The plight of persecuted Christians.  (EuropeNews)

16 June 2011.  French court hears first case against wearers of Islamic veils. (Monsters and Critics)

15 June 2011. Returning churches, restoring rights: An interview with Aram Hamparian. (The Armenian Weekly)

15 June 2011. Uzbekistan: Police beating, axe death threat, beating threat. (Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service

14 June 2011.  Advancing Freedom of Religion or Belief: Agendas for Change. (Commentary by Malcolm Evans, Professor of Public International Law, University of Bristol, Forum 18 News Service)

14 June 2011.  French parliament rejects gay marriage bill. (Associated Press)

14 June 2011. Discriminatory draft law in Belgium violates fundamental religious rights. (Joseph K. Grieboski, The Huffington Post

14 June 2011.  An unfair judgment on the European Court of Human Rights.  (Antoine Buyse,

13 June 2011.  Dutch law set to axe religious slaughter. (Matt Steinglass, Financial Times)

13 June 2011. Azerbaijan official, raiding Baptist worship service: “I am the permission and the warrant.” (Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service)

12 June 2011. Azerbaijan parliament passes amendments to law on religion. (Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

10 June 2011.  A question of belief: UK employers need to be aware of wide scope for discrimination cases.  (Andreas White,

10 June 2011.  Kazakhstan: Forced return of Muslim asylum-seekers to Uzbekistan illegal.  (Human Rights Watch)

10 June 2011.  Religions and the Law.  (Engage)  10 June 2011. French Muslim couple use British taxpayer cash to fight burkha ban back home. (Daily Mail Online9 June 2011. British couple challenge French veil ban. (Asian Image)

8 June 2011.  ECLJ Memorandum on the new Hungarian Constitution.  (Grégor Puppinck, European Centre for Law and Justice, press release 19 May)

8 June 2011.  Right to be assisted by one’s lawyer. (Simon Busuttil, Times of Malta)

8 June 2011. Azerbaijan: Communities to be forced to begin re-registration again?  (Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service)

8 June 2011. Russia: Evangelical rehabilitation mission faces liquidation. (Translated from Rossiiskaia gazeta, courtesy of Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers

7 June 2011. Europe définition de l’égalité religieuse: pas d’islam. (Virginie Guiradon, Muslim

7 June 2011. Open letter of Human Rights Without Frontiers to the President of Kyrgyzstan. (Willy Fautré, HWAF)

7 June 2011. Kazakhstan: Ahmadi Muslim mosque closed, Protestants fined 100 times minimum monthly wage. (Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service)

7 June 2011. Iran women’s soccer team thwarted by hijab ban. (CBS News)

7 June 2011. Do ‘equalities’ laws violate rights of Christians? European Court asks British government.  (Hilary White, LifeSiteNews

6 June 2011.  U.K.’s losses of religious freedom should warn U.S. (Dr. Jerry Newcombe,

6 June 2011. Azerbaijan: “The latest devious move to control religious communities.” (Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service)

6 June 2011.  Council of Europe urges Ireland to clarify law on abortion. (Jamie Smyth, The Irish Times)

6 June 2011.  UK: CARE welcomes review on sexualisation of childhood. (Karen Peake, Christian Today)

6 June 2011. Ritual slaughter, live exports and religious freedom obligations. (Joel Silver, The Drum Opinion [Australia])

5 June 2011.  Taking it too far-right: Religious intolerance in Europe. (Virginie Guiraudon, Hindustan Times)

5 June 2011. Turkish foreign policy and ongoing EU dialogue: Interview with Egemen Bağış, Turkish Minister for European Union Affairs and chief negotiator with the EU. (Maria Neag,

5 June 2011. U.K. Christians take prejudice row to the European Court of Human Rights. (David Barrett, The Telegraph)

4 June 2011.  London police officers cleared of assault on terror suspect Babar Ahmad. (Channel 4 News, UK)

3 June 2011. EU: Asserting freedom of religion is indicator of human rights.  (European Commission, eGov monitor)

3 June 2011. European Court of Human Rights targets Poland pro-life laws. (

3 June 2011.   Turkey election: AKP courts the Alevi minority vote. (Jonathan Head, BBC)

2 June 2011. European Court of Human Rights targets Poland pro-life laws. (Lauren Funk,

2 June 2011. A new constitution by a new CHP: What changed and what did not. (Levent Köker, Today’s Zaman)

2 June 2011. Happy Turks: Real democracy is an intricate everyday process, as Turkey has found and continues to learn, writes Abdel-Moneim Said. (Al-Ahram Weekly Online)

June 2011. New momentum for the protection of Sundays? (europeinfos)

31 May 2011. EU Meeting: Religion still significant in secular Europe. (OnIslam)

31 May 2011. “Baha’i Question” cited at European Parliament human rights hearing.  (Bahá’í World News Service)

30 May 2011. La justice administrative autorise les Témoins de Jéhovah à avoir des aumôniers en prison. (L’Observateur – Associated Press)

30 May 2011. France urges Moscow to respect human rights after gay parade ban. (RIA Novosti)

28 May 2011.  1st Quarterly Activity Report 2011 by Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights (1 January to 31 March 2011). (UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Strasbourg)

27 May 2011. FSB faulted as Russia Islamic Cultural Center closes. (Nikolaus von Twickel, The Moscow Times)

26 May 2011. St. Petersburg OKs gay demo, Moscow bans Pride again. (Rex Wockner, PrideSource)

26 May 2011. Politician warns U.K. Christians are being persecuted. (Karen Peake, The Christian Post)

25 May 2011. MEPs hold debate on the Hungarian constitution. (European Parliament press release)

23 May 2011. Anti-Semitic incidents spark public debate in the Netherlands. (Deutsche Welle)

23 May 2011. Another Christian adoption agency burdened by State-centered intolerance. (Heritage Foundation, The Foundry)