12 Colum. J. Eur. L. 573 (2006)
Christopher D. Belelieu, J.D. Candidate, Columbia Law School, 2006; A.B., Georgetown University, 2003.
This Note seeks to explore the European Court of Human Rights’ (the Court) recent judgment in the Sahin case by framing the legal question of the headscarf within the larger political, historical, and cultural context of Turkey while also looking at the Court’s reasoning as part of the legal eccentricities of the Court’s jurisprudence. The Note will focus on the Court’s unwillingness to engage the legal tensions in balancing an individual’s freedom of religion with Turkey’s desire to preserve its historical and political underpinnings rooted in a conception of secularism, or laiklik. Instead, the Court avoids the hard legal questions and ambiguities surrounding the headscarf debate by granting the Turkish authorities a wide margin of appreciation, avoiding any meaningful proportionality analysis, and mispplying its prior case law to the Sahin judgment. What is left from the judgment is a simplication of the legal debate through a representation of the headscarf as a symbol of Islamic fundamentalism.