NEWS | 03 Oct 2016
CASES TO WATCH: Can a Judge Determine Acceptable Religious Attire in a Quebec, Canada Courtroom?

Guest contributor Jennifer Selby uses the recent case of Rania El-Alloul in Quebec, Canada to situate the ongoing debate occurring at the intersection of secularism and religious freedom. Calling her courtroom a "secular space," provincial court judge Eliana Marengo dismissed Rania El-Alloul from her courtroom for wearing a headscarf (ḥijāb). Selby examines the legality of this decision by appealing to both text and precedentIn her estimation, although previous judicial decisions allow women to cover even more, with face veils (niqābs) in the courtroom, those precedents do not bar Marengo's decision. El-Alloul's case, challenging that decision, is significant for determining "whether judges will continue to set these parameters" for what they deem to be an acceptable practice of religion generally, and of Islamic beliefs in particular, within the Canadian courtroom. Read more. Image credit: Steve Rukavina/CBC

CASE: 2012 Judgment on Wearing a Niqab in a Canadian Court (Canadian Supreme Court, 2012)
In N.S. and the Queen v. Ontario Human Rights Commission et al, the Canadian Supreme Court, 2012 was asked to determine whether a woman was impermissibly barred from wearing face veil (niqābin court during a sexual assault trial. N.S., as she is referenced in court documents to protect her identity, wore a face veil (niqāb) in her daily life. Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin concluded that the answer, in short, depends. While declining a bright line rule against permitting veil removal or barring it, the Court held that a judge must strike a “just and proportionate balance between freedom of religion and trial fairness, based on the particular case before the court.” The case has since proved to be key in the debate between secularism and religious freedom, showing that the two ideals are not dichotomous. Read more. Image credit: Straight Good News,
In Summary:  SHARIAsource Joins in the Launch of t he Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society: On Power and Participation in the Networked Public Sphere
A stellar line-up of Berkman Klein directors, fellows, former fellows, and project directors formed a panel that discussed avenues for conversation and collaboration on cutting-edge scholarship and technology both within and outside of established distribution mechanisms. Professor Intisar Rabb, SHARIAsource founding editor-in-chief, spoke about her role in and the compelling reasons for forming SHARIAsource, which immediately garnered the support of the Berkman Klein Center in 2014. She pointed to the need for an academic and public understanding of what sharīʿa is and is not. With collaborations facilitated in part by Berkman Klein colleagues, the project has taken up several questions that seek to make academic information on Islamic law accessible and useful to specialists and non-specialists alike: How can we collect sources on Islamic law and organize vast quantities of information in a way that provides a viable research tool on par with U.S. and other legal databases? How can we ensure that the diversity of Islamic law is maintained even as we seek to facilitate scholarly and public engagement about particular pressing problems of the day? How do we help inform academic, policy, and media conversations about Islamic law? Professor Rabb also discussed how a greater understanding of the context and nuance of Islamic law can impact the construction and implementation of law in a diverse number of societies. The event – organized by the Berkman Klein Center to celebrate its renaming with a gift from Michael Klein – attracted approximately 100 people in Wasserstein Hall, including Mr. Klein, and was followed by a reception and dinner at the Harvard Art Museums.
Other News

SHARIAsource Scholars 
U.S. editor Abed Awad hosted a webinar on Sep 14th for the National Association of Family and Juvenile Judges entitled International Family Law: A Survey of Middle East Law in American Courts. He followed this with a workshop on Sep 17 that looked at Islamic marriage contracts through a survey of recent cases in American courts.

In his latest op-ed for Foreign Policy magazine, China editor Matthew Erie tracks how China's fear of "creeping Sharia" is being expressed and countered in the cybersphere.

Workshop Talk: Constitutional Design without Constitutional Moments: Lessons from Religiously-Divided Societies 
Asli Bâli , UCLA School of Law and Center for Near Eastern Studies
Wed, Oct 5 | 5.00-7.00p, HLS
Presented at the International and Comparative Law Workshop, convened by Professors Intisar Rabb and William Alford. For a copy of the paper and for location details, contact Ashley Fournier, .

American Society of Legal History Annual Meeting (27-30 Oct 2016 | Toronto, Canada). Ottoman editor Will Smiley and Professor Intisar Rabb, SHARIAsource founding editor-in-chief, will present at the ASLH Annual Meeting on the panel "Borderlands of Islamic Law: The Ottoman Empire and its Neighbors." Also at ASLH, Egyptian law and society historian Khaled Fahmy will present his paper "Global Forensics: Medico-Legal History in Asia and Africa" on a panel chaired by Mitra Sharafi. See preliminary program.

Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting (17-20 Nov 2016 | Boston, MA). MESA’s annual meeting will host a range of panels on Islamic law, including  "Policing and Punishment in the Making of the Modern Middle East," "Is Saudi Foreign Policy 'Islamic'?," "Islamic Religious Authority between the Arab World and Europe: Multi-tasked and Multi-tasking Imams" (Denmark contributor Niels Valdemar Vinding will be presenting), "International Law, Sovereignty and Subjecthood in the Late Ottoman Empire" (Ottoman editor Will Smiley will be a discussant), "Legal Contests & Disputes, Part I," "Law as Social History in the Late Ottoman Era," "Legal Contests & Disputes, Part 2."  See full preliminary program.

"Qur’anists in al-Andalus?" (5 Apr 2017 4 pm | Princeton, NJ). Incoming ILSP/SHARIAsource and CMES senior fellow Maribel Fierro will be speaking as part of the Institute for Advanced Study's Near/Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Lecture Series 2016/2017. She explores the production of religious and political authority sharing her study of how prophets accepted by Islam are represented. See full details. 

Workshop on Arabic Periodicals (12 Nov 2016 | Durham). Adam Mestyan of Duke University is organizing a small workshop on early Arabic periodicals. For more information, email

“Law as Religion, Religion as Law” (5-7 Jun 2017 | Jerusalem). The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has issued a call for papers to bring together scholars from multiple disciplines (including law, religious studies, philosophy, history, political science and other relevant fields). Abstracts are due on 26 Oct.  Call for papers.

2017 Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture & the Humanities (21 Mar-01 Apr 2017 | Stanford) . The Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities is now accepting panel and paper proposals for their twentieth annual meeting. Proposals that include complete panels or focus on pedagogy, methodology, author-meets-readers sessions, or performance (theatrical, cinematic, musical, and poetic) are strongly encouraged. Abstracts of 250 words or less are due on  28 Oct Read more .

The Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History (4-17 Jun 2017 | Madison).  The American Society for Legal History and the Institute for Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin Law School are now accepting applications for their ninth biennial Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History. Applications are due on  1 Dec Read more. 

UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law. JINEL is seeking papers for its 2016 volume. Published once a year, JINEL is the first publication of a Western law school to cover Islamic and Near Eastern law. It covers all legal issues, and seeks articles that critically analyze social, political, civil, historical, economic, and commercial topics.  Read more.

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