When and Why does a Religious Norm Become Unacceptable in the Public Space?

Ringvorlesung "Normenkonflikte in pluralistischen Gesellschaften" des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen"

Prof. Dr. Olivier Roy (European University, Florence)

2. Dezember 2015, 18.15 Uhr
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Campus Westend, Hörsaalzentrum, HZ 10

The debate on the place of Islam as a religion in Europe has been concentrated essentially on the issue of “religious signs” in the public sphere: mosque, veil, minarets. It extended to religious signs made “visible “ on bodies or food: hallal food, circumcision.
In the meantime, many court decisions and especially the European Court of Human rights considered that it was acceptable not to grant equality for religious signs in the public sphere: allowing the display of crucifi x in Italian schools, banning veil but not Christian attire (Germany, Swiss).
The issue is to understand what make here the religious norm acceptable or not. The argument of the courts are that the Christian signs are more cultural than religious. What does it say about the relationship of Religion, faith and culture in Europe?

Olivier Roy, born in 1949, is joint chair at the inter-disciplinary Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and the Department of Political and Social Sciences (European University Institute). He has been senior researcher in political science at the French National Centre for Scientific Research since 1985 and Professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociale (EHESS), (School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences) in Paris since 2003.
In 1972 Roy received an “Agrégation” in philosophy and a MA in Persian language and civilization from the French Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales. Twenty-two years later he received a PhD in Political Science. In 1988 Roy was a consultant for the United Nations Office of the Coordinator for Afghanistan (UNOCA) and headed the OSCE’s Mission in Tajikistan between 1993 and 1994.
His extensive research interests and fi elds of expertise include the Middle East and Central Asia, especially Iran and Afghanistan. Roy is the author of the books Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan (1990), The Failure of Political Islam (1994), The Illusions of September 11. (2002), Globalized Islam (2004), and of numerous books about political Islam and religious fundamentalism. One of his best noted works, Secularism Confronts Islam (2007), offers a perspective on the experiences of Muslims in western secular society. He also serves on the editorial board of the academic journal Central Asian Survey, and in 2005 during the Paris riots he wrote about their non-religious causes. In 2010 he published the book Holy Ignorance, an analysis of the interdependence  between culture, religion, and ethnicity.





  • Prof. Dr. Olivier Roy (European University, Florence)
  • Prof. Dr. Susanne Schröter, Professorin für Ethnologie an der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main und Principal Investigator des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen"


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