Militant or pluralist secularism? The European Court of Human Rights facing religious diversity
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The increased diversity of contemporary societies has multiplied the claims to accommodate this new plurality, particularly that of religions, in different contexts of everyday life such as workplaces, schools and public offices. As a result, in the last decade, there have been an increasing number of cases before the European Court of Human Rights concerning religious diversity, indicating the importance of this topic in the European arena. In some recent cases on the use of religious symbols in public places, public schools and universities, the Court has frequently sustained a strict form of secularism or even a sort of intolerant secularism or enlightenment fundamentalism. However, in other cases the Court has discarded a militant form of secularism following a more pluralist, open secularism model. This contribution argues that, often criticised for being arbitrary and unpredictable, the Court’s approach to religion is pragmatic, but it must strengthen the role of the state as a promoter of tolerance.