Religious Symbols in Public Schools: The Islamic Headscarf and the European Court of Human Rights Decision in Şahin v. Turkey
The European Court of Human Rights in particular has made significant strides in recognizing that in order for the freedoms of association and religion guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms to be meaningful, they must include a right to maintain legal entity status. Recognition of the freedom of association in modern international human rights instruments dates back to the first of those documents, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia case was the first to directly address the right of religious associations to register as a legal entity. The case involves the efforts of the members of the Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia in Moldova to register with the Moldavian government as a recognized church. The Welfare Party Case and the case of Leyla Sahin v. Turkey are but two recent examples of how the Court failed to understand the unique issues raised in the context of Islam.