Preventing discrimination and persecution. Models of inclusion of religious minorities in the Euro-Mediterranean space (ReMinEM)

The research examines the degree to which the rights of religious minorities are promoted in four European countries with different Christian traditions (Portugal, Denmark, Italy, Greece) and compares it with that of religious minorities in two countries with a Muslim majority (Lebanon and Egypt). The purpose of the research project is to assess what insights can be gained from the study of these two groups of countries to make respect for and promotion of minority rights more effective, given the historical, cultural, and political differences that characterize each country and require a contextualized and multifaceted approach.

The research aims to evaluate both the rights guaranteed by the legal system of each country and their effective and concrete implementation. To this end, two questionnaires have been prepared. The first one, addressed to legal experts, aims at providing a thorough and accurate picture of the rights guaranteed to minorities in the legal system of each country; the second one, addressed to representatives of religious minorities, focuses on the concrete application of these rights and aims at measuring the perception of discrimination existing among members of minorities. The answers to the questionnaires will be compared with the intent: a) to verify what are the principles underlying the different national models of management of religious diversity, with particular reference to minorities; b) to assess what can be learned and what policy lines can be drawn from this comparison.

The questionnaires take into account the following policy areas:

1. school and education: a) religious education in public schools; b) right to be exempted from this education; c) right to wear symbols of one’s own religion at school; d) right to abstain from teaching and from school attendance on religious holidays; e) right to receive food not prohibited by religious rules in school canteens; f) right to open denominational schools; g) access of denominational schools to public funding; h) autonomy of denominational schools in the choice of teachers, programs and textbooks.

2. marriage and family law: a) relevance of religious rules in the celebration and dissolution of a marriage valid for the State; b) relevance of religious rules about inheritance, dowry, adoption and custody of children in case of divorce; c) relevance of religious rules on the relationship between spouses and between spouses and children; d) regulation of interreligious marriages.

Funding agency: Ministero degli Affari Esteri

Consortium/partners: FBK (Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento);Adyan Foundation (Beirut); University of Sussex (Freedom of Religion or Belief and Foreign Policy Initiative); ICLARS (International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies, Milan).

PI: Rossella Bottoni (University of Trento), Valeria Fabretti (FBK), Silvio Ferrari (FBK)

Researchers: Ana Maria Daou (Adyan Foundation), Deborah Iannotti (FBK), Fabio Petito (Sussex University), Andrew Dickson (Sussex University) Silvia Baldassarre (University of Florence)

Start date: September 2021

End date: September 2022

Main project outputs:

1. a database that will contain the questionnaires submitted to legal experts and representatives of religious minorities; a comparative table where the answers to the questionnaires given by the experts of each country are presented; the presentation of the methodology applied to the analysis of the data; brief introductions to the religious minorities taken into consideration and to their  position in the countries under research.

2. a report that contains the legal and sociological analysis of the data collected through the questionnaires; a comparative study of the strategies followed by the different countries to manage religious diversity, with a particular focus on minorities; the indication of the key findings of the research; the policy lines and recommendations resulting from the research.

3. a conference where the data and information contained in the data base and the policy lines set forth in the report are presented and discussed.


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