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Religious Discrimination and Incitement to Religious Hatred. What Answer at EU Level?

Sara Benedi

Five years ago, the so called 'cartoons' crisis' arose after the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten published twelve drawings depicting Mahoma. Following some violent reactions against Denmark and European Union (EU) embassies, a joint statement was issued by the UN, the EU and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Several EU political leaders made declarations in favour of intercultural dialogue, supporting freedom of religion and a responsible exercise of freedom of speech. The OIC called upon the EU to take measures to fight Islamophobia, but the EU lacks any legislative competence on this issue. However, it is true that the shift from its initial 'market approach' to a more 'social approach' has slowly introduced religion into EU policies by the back door. Accordingly, EU law may have some influence in the way that Member States face freedom of religion and freedom of speech conflicts. In this article I will focus on the problem of incitement to religious hatred in the framework of EU law. For this purpose, I will analyse how the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Directive 78/2000/EC could apply to this type of conflicts, taking also into account the links with the European Convention of Human Rights.



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