Freedom of religion and the competency of the Greek, Swedish and Swiss governments to ban or impose restrictions in the erection and function of Muslim mosques in accordance with international or domestic law
Ph.D. Candidate in International Criminal Law at Democritus University of Thrace - Faculty of Law/Judge at the Judicial Corps of the Hellenic Armed Forces
Islam has been present in Europe since the medieval era. During the last decades, Muslim minorities and communities in Europe have increased geometrically in number and population. This has created the need for more mosques where Muslims will exercise the external aspects of their freedom of religion, namely its manifestation through worship, teaching, practice and observance.
Despite the fact that, according to the international standards on the protection of human rights, European governments are obliged to secure and facilitate the Muslims’ freedom of religion, confrontation has risen in many societies over the erection and function of Muslim mosques. Campaigns and rallies against the erection and function of Muslim mosques have become commonplace in many European countries, disregarding that religious buildings (churches, chapels, mosques etc) are directly connected to the right to manifest one’s religion. The political debate on the proposed banning of or restriction in the erection and function of Muslim mosques remains vivid in most European countries.
The main objective of the project is to research on whether freedom of religion, as a constitutional and human right, contains the right of erection and function of mosques by Muslim minorities or communities, and whether European states can ban or impose restrictions in the erection of mosques and other religious buildings. The research will focus on Greece, Sweden and Switzerland comparatively, since the aforementioned countries have treated the issue in different ways up to now.
Consequently the main research question is: "Do the Greek, Swedish and Swiss governments have the legal right to ban or impose restrictions in the erection and function of Muslim mosques in their territories and, if yes, under which conditions?".
The methodology pattern to be used is the comparative analysis of international human rights instruments (conventions, declarations etc), the Greek, Swedish and Swiss domestic law, the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the case law of the Greek, Swedish and Swiss courts. The project will also include references to the theory of legal pluralism and its possible implementation in the issue under research.