The aim of the conference and its future publication is to tackle these issues in a multidisciplinary manner. Contributions are not required to be written from a legal perspective. The theme itself is interdisciplinary and allows contributions from scholars from multiple backgrounds, including law, history, religion studies and political science. A combination of theory and practice is also encouraged.
We specifically call for contributions that address above themes that will be addressed in separate panels during the conference:
- Freedom of Religion or Belief of Refugees and Migrants
Contributions under this panel are welcome to address socio-legal and political issues related to implementing international human-rights law and standards regarding refugees and migrants.
- Freedom of Religion or Belief in the Conflict Zone
Conflicts involve a whole array of interrelated issues. However, the contributions under this theme could aim to clarify issues related to the role of religion or religious organizations in a conflict – and the status of freedom of religion or belief – to better understand realities of the experiences of people who live in and leave conflict zones.
- Hate Speech and Migration
‘In response to … combined sentiments of fear and contempt, two sources of aggressiveness can merge into a toxic mix, that is, aggressiveness stemming from imagined threats and aggressiveness stemming from the pretence of one’s own collective superiority’ (UN Special Rapporteur, 2013). It seems it has become common and acceptable to say negative things about refugees and migrants. It is debatable at what point this expression of opinions no longer contributes to the pluralism of ideas and public debate – necessary in a democratic society, for voicing controversies and finding solutions – and cross the line into the realm of hate speech. For example, the Venice Commission (European Commission for Democracy through Law, 2010) has pointed out that ‘in a true democracy, imposing limitations on freedom of expression should not be used as a means of preserving society from dissenting views, even if they are extreme. Ensuring and protecting open public debate should be the primary means of protecting inalienable fundamental values like freedom of expression and religion at the same time as protecting society and individuals against discrimination. It is only the publication or utterance of those ideas that are fundamentally incompatible with a democratic regime because they incite to hatred that should be prohibited.’
- Religious Symbols in Public Space
Religious symbols have been a contentious topic for years. However, there seems to be a new momentum to the permissibility or non-permissibility of some symbols, like Islamic headscarves or burkas, in public space in the light of mass migration. For example, many post-communist Eastern and Central European countries only now really have entered the debate that has been on going for some time in many other parts of Europe (and beyond). Authors are welcome to address these issues from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective under this panel.
- Accommodation of Diversity
This theme will explore founded or unfounded fears of the cost (broadly defined, e.g. social, economic, legal) to the public of accommodating different religious needs. For example, in addition to religious symbols, there also are other ‘symbols,’ such as recognizing religious holidays of minority faiths on the calendar – at least as a day of observance if not an official ‘holiday’ when governmental offices are closed and businesses need to give workers extra pay for working on those days.
- Secular State as a Gate and Peace Keeper?
The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly emphasised the State’s role as the neutral and impartial organiser of the exercising of various religions, faiths and beliefs in public life and has pointed out that this role is conducive to public order, harmony and tolerance in a democratic society. Authors are welcome to expand on this role of the State as it relates to the current migration crisis situation in Europe.
Authors are also welcome to address interrelated issues such as combating terrorism and extremism. For example, to some degree we can talk about ‘securitization of rights’ or security as a meta-right. John Reid described the right to security as ‘the basic right on which all others are based’. Franco Frattini, a former European Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security has considered the right to be ‘a precondition for all other freedoms’. Lazarus, however, argues that: ‘There are a number of arguments why the right to security cannot, and must not, displace the noninstrumental values of liberty, dignity and equality, as the grounding foundation of human rights.’ She quite rightly points out that: ‘Framing security as a meta-right gives it a subtle and different weight in the balancing process than it does if it is only considered to be a collective goal (or for that matter a specific right).’ She also argues that: ‘It is imperative that we keep the scope of the right to security distinct and its content specific. By limiting the scope of the right to security, we can tame not only extensive claims to security, we can secure rights.’
- Education as an Antidote against Religious Hatred?
Religious education has long been considered a source of potential public conflict, particularly in secular states. This panel invites presentations that explore how education on religions in general and the differences amongst religious beliefs, perhaps, can bridge the gap separating some communities in the current situation.
- Interreligious Dialogue – a Solution in Times of Crisis?
The UN special rapporteur has pointed out in his 2013 report that: ‘The most important antidote to existing, or emerging, mistrust between groups of people is the reality check facilitated by frank intergroup communication and open public discourse.’ The aim of this theme and panel discussion is to present good practices and analyze what can be done to improve the dialogue between and bring together neighbors with differing beliefs.