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Legal Trends in Western Europe Related to Freedom of Religion

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Freedom of religion is not a static concept, especially not when religion becomes an increasingly dominant actor in the social and political field. This is particularly the case in Western Europe, where legal systems based on different forms of secularism are confronted with increasing religiosity among its indigenous people and large numbers of migrants. The author discerns four legal trends resulting from this confrontation, ranging from engaging religion to rebutting it: state involvement with religious authorities and activities; active state promotion of organization of religious communities (in particular Muslims); the protection of religion rather than its believers; and curbing religious behavior by law.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Islam in the West, Leiden University, The Netherlands


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