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Freedom of Religion

Minorities and the Right to Freedom of Religion

The point of departure of this research is to investigate how main issues and dilemmas that religious minorities and groups pose and face in contemporary societies have been or may be addressed through the lens of the European Court of Human Rights. Rather than looking at the most relevant pronouncements of the Strasbourg judges in the field of religion and belief according to a traditional approach analysis, this research project will seek to identify the contribution of the Strasbourg case-law vis-á-vis most urgent contemporary religious-related questions.

Some of the most challenging dilemmas featuring contemporary post-secular societies can be identified as the relationship between state and religion and the tendency toward a ‘militant secularism’, the missionary expansion and the problem of proselytism, the general distrust toward new religious movements, especially in a context in which one or more religions are mainstream, the issue of offenses to the religious feeling of believers, and the accommodation of increasing religious diversity in everyday life.

Islamic Pluralism in Austria: The Impact of a Selective Institutional Recognition of Islam on Rights of Islamic Minorities (PhD project)

Research on the governance of religious diversity, especially on the State accommodation of Islamic communities in a secular, liberal-democratic State so far, focused either on the possibilities of legal pluralism or on the necessity of a group rights model, but without taking into account the plurality of Muslim communities. Repercussions of the dominant monistic approach on these communities are a neglected field of study. This qualitative, non-doctrinal legal PhD research project assesses the impact of a selective cooperation approach in conjunction with the enactment of the new Islam Law Act on Islamic communities. With Austria as an example, the project focuses on the impact of the recent recognition of the Alevi community on the legal status of, and the relationships between, recognized and non-recognized Austrian Islamic communities and the State. Following a minority rights based approach, precisely by focusing on the right to participation and the principles of full equality and non-discrimination, this PhD research project aims to develop meaningful solutions for possible shortcomings in the legal framework of a liberal-democratic approach to govern religious diversity.


Roberta Medda-Windischer (Senior Researcher), roberta.medda@eurac.edu

Kerstin Wonisch (PhD Student), kerstin.wonisch@eurac.edu

Selected Bibliography

Medda-Windischer, R., The Contribution of the European Court of Human Rights to Contemporary Religious‐Related Dilemmas”, Vol. 9, European Yearbook of Minority Issues, 2010

Medda-Windischer, R., The Accommodation of Contemporary Religious Diversity and the European Court of Human Rights”, Yearbook on Human Rights and Humanitarian Action, Special Issue, Winter 2011.

Medda-Windischer, R., The Contribution of the European Court of Human Rights to Contemporary Religious‐Related Dilemmas: the Case of Religious Diversity in Education, Journal of the Civil Liberties Center (University of Calgary), Summer 2012.


"Traditional instruments and new challenges: The squaring of the circle?". European Academy of Religion Annual Conference, Bologna, March 4-7 2019.


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