This contribution zooms in on a particularly disconcerting development in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, that is visible in several recent cases brought by religious minorities with a migrant background, in which the Court accepts – in the name of (requirements for) integration – far-reaching restrictions on the rights of these religious minorities with a migrant background to be respected in their own religiously inspired way of life. The Court furthermore glosses over a context of Islamophobia and related stereotypes, thus failing to identify and counter instances of discrimination on grounds of religion. The article argues that the ECtHR in these cases not only drifts away from the counter-majoritarian core of human rights protection, turning several of its steady lines of jurisprudence favourable to (the effective protection of) minorities’ fundamental rights on their head, but also allows States to basically push religious minorities with a migrant background out of the public space/public schools, in the name of social integration – an integrated society. Ultimately, States are contesting the substantive citizenship of religious minorities with a migrant background and the Court, unfortunately, enables them to exclude and marginalise these religious minorities with a migrant background. The Court thus disregards the foundational value of the right to equal treatment for the human rights paradigm, and moves away from an equal and inclusive citizenship. Put differently, the Court enables governments to dress up Islamophobic, exclusionary agenda’s with a human face, thus challenging the boundaries of citizenship in the name of ‘integration’.

citizenship, ECtHR, integration, majoritarianism, minorities,
VSNU Open Access deal
Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights
Erasmus School of Law

Henrard, K.A.M. (2020). Integration reasoning at the ECtHR: Challenging the boundaries of minorities’ citizenship. Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights. doi:10.1177/0924051920901371