Islamic face veil legal and human rights issues to be d...

Islamic face veil legal and human rights issues to be debated at Nottingham Law School


The Islamic veil has become the subject of intense controversy across Europe in recent years against a backdrop of a ‘crisis in multiculturalism’, religious radicalisation, growth in Islamophobia and international conflict.

In response to this, the legal and human rights issues surrounding the Islamic face veil – the niqab and the burqa – are to be debated at an event at Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University, in March 2015.

The Law School’s Centre for Conflict, Rights & Justice (CCRJ) will collaborate with its Centre for Advocacy to host the seminar Human Rights, Law and Religion: Perspectives on the Islamic Face Veil.

Tom Lewis, reader in Law and director of the CCRJ at Nottingham Law School, said: “The issue of the face veil, and legal restrictions upon the wearing of it in public in some European states, raises serious and difficult questions about the place of religion in modern secular Europe. In the wake of the recent appalling events in Paris it is more important than ever that such difficult issues are openly discussed and debated.

The European Court of Human Rights itself has struggled to deal with the matter; and our own court proceedings in England and Wales have recently been under scrutiny with regards to the extent to which defendants and others should be permitted to wear the face veil during trial.

“The examination of these issues raises fascinating and important questions around culture, belief, identity, autonomy, identification, credibility, the nature of public space and the very concept of the secular state.”

The seminar, taking place on 30 March in Nottingham Law School’s replica courtroom, will bring together distinguished commentators with contrasting perspectives from academia, legal practice and wider civil society.

Among others, speakers include Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, journalist and social commentator; Dr Rajnaara Akhtar, University of Warwick; Professor Eva Brems, professor of Human Rights Law, University of Ghent, Belgium; Professor Susan Edwards, women’s rights campaigner and professor of Law, University of Buckingham; and Felicity Gerry QC, Barrister, 36 Bedford Row, London and researcher at Charles Darwin University, Australia; Samantha Knights, Barrister, Matrix Chambers, London; Professor Jill Marshall, University of Leicester; and Dr Anastasia Vakulenko, Birmingham University.

The mission of the CCRJ is to pursue and encourage innovative scholarship in the fields of criminal law, criminal justice, human rights, international humanitarian law, conflict resolution and post-conflict justice. It aims to contribute to public and academic debate, and influence the thinking of law and policy makers through publications, seminars and conferences.

For further information or to book a free place email or visit the CCRJ website

Event details

Date: 30 March 2015.
Time: 10.30 am – 5.30 pm (with registration starting at 10 am).
Venue: The Court Room, Chaucer Building, Goldsmith Street, Nottingham.
Fee: The event is free, but all delegates will need to register online, since places are limited.
A light lunch will be served, plus tea and coffee in the morning and afternoon.

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