Successful Islamic face veil seminar held at Nottingham Law School

Nottingham Law School's Centre for Conflict, Rights and Justice and Centre for Advocacy hosted their seminar, Perspectives on the Islamic Face Veil, on Monday 30 April.

Nottingham Law School's Centre for Conflict, Rights and Justice and Centre for Advocacy hosted their seminar, Perspectives on the Islamic Face Veil on Monday 30 April. The issue of the face veil and legal restrictions upon the wearing of it in public in some European states raises serious and difficult questions about the place of religion in modern secular Europe.

This seminar aimed to provide a forum for those with different views and perspectives to engage in the debate in a supportive and collaborative atmosphere. Eight speakers spoke from a range of perspectives over the course of three themed sessions.

In the first session Dr Rajnaara Akhtar, University of Warwick, spoke movingly about the lived experiences of face-veil wearers. Journalist and social commentator Yasmin Alabhai-Brown presented heart-felt arguments from her 2014 book Refusing the Veil and human rights barrister Samantha Knights, Matrix Chambers, provided a comprehensive overview of the complex landscape of law, rights and religion in the UK and Europe.

The second session concentrated on the issues surrounding the French ban on the veil and the subsequent refusal of the European Court of Human Rights to overturn this in the case of SAS v France. Eloquent, penetrating and contrasting expert analyses were presented by Professor Eva Brems, Ghent University, Dr Anastasia Vakulenko, University of Birmingham, and Professor Jill Marshall, University of Leicester.

The final session of the day looked at the controversial issue of whether the face veil can be worn in court. Jeremy Robson, from Nottingham Law School, examined the issue of the face veil and its impact on assessing ‘demeanor' in court and Felicity Gerry QC, Charles Darwin University, presented a highly entertaining, personal and informative paper on the relationship between the veil and justice.

The event was attended by over 60 delegates including representatives from academia, the legal profession, the police and the Equality and Rights Commission.

The day was a great success, demonstrating that even controversial issues can be debated fully and frankly but with respect for opposing views. Hopefully the discourse will have enabled all the participants to have appreciated the perspectives of those who support and those who oppose the veil. Only by understanding both arguments can we move towards living in a tolerant multicultural democracy.

Many of the papers will be published in a special issue of the Nottingham Law Journal and the speakers' Powerpoint presentations will be available shortly via the Nottingham Law School website.

Our sincere thanks to all the participants and to our generous sponsors: Paragon Law and Cartwright King Solicitors.

Successful Islamic face veil seminar held at Nottingham Law School

Published on 9 April 2015
  • Category: Press office; Nottingham Law School

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