Islamic Symbols in European Courts

It is well-known that accommodating Islam in the legal systems of European countries is a daunting task. Anyone who embarks on such a tough yet crucial challenge needs to be aware that Islam seeks to prescribe living according to the precepts of Islamic law, known as Shari’a law, which consists of a comprehensive set of rules that guide Muslims through their everyday life. As a result, since Muslims, a significant minority in Europe, are both compelled and willing to abide by these rules, they ask for freedom to carry out their lives in accordance with Islam. However, these requests are often met with scepticism by the authorities whilst public opinion, which frequently feels threatened by the Muslim community itself, perceives any demand as dangerous. Even though requests regarding the freedom to perform ritual daily prayers or to build places of worship seem quite reasonable, some other requests, particularly those that deal with the freedom to wear certain garments, especially in public places such as schools, could cause problems when analysed in depth. Indeed, when it comes to striking a balance between competing interests, some of which are deemed to represent core values of contemporary Western culture, such as gender equality and public security, granting Muslims what they ask for seems sometimes even trickier and is perceived as dangerous.

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