NEWS | 21 Mar 2017
Freedom of Religion Under Threat Across Europe After EU Court Rules Employers Can Ban Headscarves

Guest contributor Sara Silvestri examines the latest in the recent developments of the European headscarves debate. "Employers across Europe have been given the green light to ban staff from wearing religious and political symbols after a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ). The ruling opens up a Pandora’s box and could disproportionately affect Muslim women facing requests to remove headscarves in some places of work across Europe. But it is also likely to affect other people that display their religious affiliations through their dress, such as Sikh men, Orthodox Jewish women, nuns working in hospitals or schools, or those who overtly display their political affiliations or sympathies. The ECJ ruling related to two cases brought by national courts in France and Belgium, regarding Muslim women who had sued their employers. The women argued that they had been discriminated against at work for being asked to remove their veils – one by the employer and the other by a customer and subsequently by her employer – and were sacked when they refused to do so. Within the EU, national laws about equality and non-discrimination in the workplace are governed by an overarching EU directive from 2000, and the French and Belgian courts wanted clarification from the ECJ around how to interpret the law in these cases. The ruling will not allow employers to systematically ban the hijab and other religious and political symbols in all workplaces, but it does provide ammunition for those who want to ask their staff not to display religious symbols. The ECJ decided that if an employer’s goal is to provide services to customers in a neutral way, it is entitled to request its employees to remove visible religious or political symbols. But this logic around respecting the neutrality of the employer’s goals remains fuzzy, and seems to go against a previous ruling from the European Court of Human Rights, which has upheld the rights of employees to display religious symbols at work as part of their religious freedom.Read more. Image credit: Shutterstock

CASE: EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, 575 U.S. __ (2015): "Ḥijāb Case"

Facts: Respondent (Abercrombie) refused to hire Samantha Elauf, a practicing Muslim, because the headscarf that she wore pursuant to her religious obligations conflicted with Abercrombie’s employee dress policy. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit on Elauf’s behalf, alleging a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, inter alia, prohibits a prospective employer from refusing to hire an applicant because of the applicant’s religious practice when the practice could be accommodated without undue hardship. Read the case. Image credit: J. Scott Applewhite | Star Tribune

The Ongoing Public Debate on Islam in the Netherlands

Jan Jaap de Ruiter discusses the public debate on Islam and sharīʿa in the Netherlands shortly before the March 15th parliamentary elections. "The public debate on Islam and sharīʿa in the Netherlands is lively. A danger overshadowing this discussion is the polarizing rhetoric of populist parties. " Read more. Image credit: Daily Mail

Other News

ILSP Paper Prize on Islamic Law for HLS Students
Islamic Legal Studies Program Prize on Islamic Law (Cambridge, MA). Each year the Law School awards several prizes for the best papers written by Harvard Law School students in particular areas of the law. Graduating prize winners are noted in the Commencement Program and prize-winning papers are eligible to be published in the School’s public paper series. ILSP will award a prize of $1,000 annually to the Harvard Law School student writing the best paper in the field of Islamic law or on the intersection between other religious legal traditions and Islamic law. Papers eligible for consideration will be ones written during the current academic year, addressing any topic in Islamic legal history and theory, Islamic law and society, and Islamic comparative law – including these topics as related to other religious legal traditions. Papers are due in the Office of Academic Affairs (Lewis 208) by 5:00 pm on 28 Apr 2017. Read more.

Events

ILSP: SHARIAsource Fellow's Lecture :: Maribel Fierro on The Trial of a Heretic (Muslim Toledo, 11th Century): Judicial Procedure and Political Context (27 Mar 2017 | Cambridge, MA). Maribel Fierro, Senior Research Fellow, ILSP: SHARIAsource; Visiting Scholar, Center for Middle Eastern Studies; Harvard University; Director, El Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales (CSIC) in Madrid, Spain, will be discussing her current research on a significant Andalusian judicial figure during a lunch discussion. 12.00-1.00p | Harvard Law School, WCC 5052

ILSP: SHARIAsource Fellow's Lecture :: Sohaira Siddiqui (24 Apr 2017 | Cambridge, MA). Lecture by Sohaira Siddiqui, Policy Fellow, ILSP: SHARIAsource; Assistant Professor of Theology and Islamic Studies, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Doha, Qatar, on her current research over lunch. 

ILSP: SHARIAsource Fellow's Lecture :: Mubasher Hussain (1 May 2017 | Cambridge, MA). Lecture by Mubasher Hussain, ILSP: SHARIAsource Fulbright Fellow; Head, Sirah Unit, Islamic Research Institute, International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan, on his current research over lunch. 

Launch of "The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition: A Digital Portal" (11 Apr 2017 | New York, New York). The Institute of Advanced Study's launch event of "The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition: A Digital Portal" will be on April 11, 2017 at the residence of the German Ambassador to the United Nations in New York. Register here for the event.

Opportunities
Bates College: Faculty Position: Politics Lecturer in Politics (Sep 2017 - Sep 2018). The Department of Politics at Bates College invites applications for a one-year visiting position focusing on Comparative Politics with a specialty in politics of the Middle East starting in the fall of 2017.  Candidates should have a Ph.D. completed or nearly complete. The Politics Department has implemented an innovative curriculum that uses concentrations on broad sets of ideas in political science rather than the traditional subfields.  Those applying should show a strong commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching and scholarly research. Consideration of applications will begin 10 Mar 2017.

Temple Bar Scholarships (2-27 Oct 2017 | London). The Temple Bar Foundation is accepting applications for its scholarship program. Selected scholars will have the opportunity to shadow a barrister and observe and discuss English trial practice, spend time with a justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, observe appellate arguments, discuss legal issues with the country’s highest judges. Applications due 30 Apr 2017 . Read more.

International Conference on Transnational Families and Divorce: Revisiting Marital Break-Up in Times of Global (Im)mobilities) (27-29 Sep 2017 | Nijmegen, Netherlands). This conference examines transnational divorce, as its causes, processes, and after-effects increasingly take place across national and socio-cultural borders. It takes into account the different socio-legal and cultural contexts within which it occurs, notably how state policies influence the process of marital dissolution.  We particularly welcome papers from young scholars in the field of socio-legal studies, sociology,  anthropology, history, and other disciplines. We also encourage studies that employ a transnational  and/or intersectional approach (Crenshaw 1989) paying attention to structuring factors such as  gender, class, race and ethnicity. After the conference, selected papers will be published as parts of  an edited volume on transnational families and divorce. Abstracts due 30 Apr 2017  Read more.

Al-Qasimi Chair (Professor/Associate Professor) in Islamic Studies, IAIS, University of Exeter (Exeter, UK).  The post holder will be a leading international figure with the ability to attract high quality researchers at doctoral and postdoctoral level to the Islamic Studies research group. Any area of Islamic Studies is an appropriate specialism including (but not limited to) history, theology, philosophy, literature, mysticism, law, jurisprudence, art and architecture, art history, anthropology and sociology, digital humanities, and any period of the study of Islam. Applications due 1 May 2017 Read more.

Call for Panels: Comparative Law, Faith and Religion: The Role of Faith in Law (26-28 Oct 2017 | Washington D.C. ).  The American Society of Comparative Law and American University College of Law invites all interested scholars to consider submitting a panel proposal for the upcoming Annual Meeting of the American Society of Comparative Law that will be held between Thursday, October 26, and Saturday, October 28, 2017, at American University Washington College of Law, Washington D.C.  entitled Comparative Law, Faith and Religion: The Role of Faith in Law. Panel proposals should include up to four speakers, a panel title, and a one-to-two-paragraph description of the ideas that the panel will explore. Proposals are due 1 Jun 2017. Read more.

Engagement Lab @ Emerson College: MA in Civic Media, Art, and Practice (Boston, MA).  For those who have an interest in digital Islamic law/humanities, and want graduate training to better prepare for an academic or industry career in the field, the Engagement Lab is accepting applications for their graduate program.  Read more.

Share & Sign Up for News on Islamic Law
Do you have an upcoming event or research opportunity on Islamic law? To include it in our mailings, send details to shariasource@law.harvard.edu

Sign up for general announcements by emailing shariasource@law.harvard.edu with "Sign up for announcements" in the subject line. 
Editors, contributors, scholars, and researchers: collaborate and discuss possible ideas on the community listserv.