Thursday, July 03, 2014
European Court of Human Rights upholds French burka ban
The European Court of Human Rights has upheld France's ban on wearing a burka or a niqab in public, ruling that the 2010 law on religious headgear does not breach Muslim women’s human rights.
The Strasbourg court ruled in the case brought by a devout French Muslim that there had been no violation of her right to respect for private and family life, no breach of her right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and no breach of the prohibition of discrimination.
France has both the largest Muslim community in western Europe, estimated at around five million, and some of the continent's most restrictive laws about expressions of faith in public.
It was the first European country to pass a law banning veils that conceal the face in public. Belgium later followed suit.
The French law, which carries a fine of €150 or lessons in French citizenship for those found wearing a veil in public, was brought in under conservative ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy and is backed by the current Socialist administration of President François Hollande.
Authorities say religious veils are degrading to women, an affront to France's secular traditions, and a security risk as they prevent the accurate identification of individuals.
The European court accepted the French government’s argument that the veil ban was justified in the interests of social cohesion, but dismissed the argument of public safety, stating that a full ban would not have been required to achieve that aim.
The plaintiff, identified only by her initials SAS, had described herself as a 24-year-old woman who is a "devout Muslim and she wears the burqa and niqab in accordance with her religious faith, culture and personal convictions".
She insisted that "neither her husband nor any other member of her family puts pressure on her to dress in this manner".
The plaintiff was represented by a law firm based in the British city of Birmingham -- where she has family connections - specialising in immigration and human rights. Her lawyer has said she did not "feel comfortable" using a French lawyer.
The ban has sparked tensions within France's Muslim community. There were riots in the Paris suburb of Trappes last summer after a man was arrested for allegedly attacking a police officer who stopped his wife for wearing a full-face veil.
Souad, a 21-year-old Muslim from the Paris region who wears a full face veil, said she wasn't surprised by the European court’s ruling.
She said she has had to severely curtail her social and professional life since the French law came into effect, avoiding going out in public as much as she possibly can.
“I can no longer walk down the Champs Elysees like anyone else,” she said.
The judgment was criticised by James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, as a failure to protect women's rights.
"Coming at a time when hostility to ethnic and religious minorities is on the rise in many parts of Europe, the Court's decision is an unfortunate missed opportunity to reaffirm the importance of equal treatment for all and the fundamental right to religious belief and expression. The majority has failed adequately to protect the rights of many women who wish to express themselves by what they wear," he said.
The ruling by the Strasbourg court came just days after one of France's highest courts upheld the dismissal of a kindergarten worker for wanting to wear a headscarf to work.
Religious symbols such as headscarves, crucifixes, or Jewish skullcaps are banned from state schools in France.
Separated mothers must not get away with 'Catherine Tate justice' and ignore dads' rights, says Appeal Court judge
Catherine Tate is a rather disturbed English comedian who grew up without a father
Separated mothers must no longer get away with ‘Catherine Tate justice’ that prevents fathers from seeing their children, a senior judge said.
No mother should be able to ignore court orders, stop a father ever meeting his children, and then tell him ‘Am I bothered?’, Appeal Court judge Lord Justice McFarlane said.
He said that radical fathers’ groups were right to complain that men were often wrongly shut out of their children’s lives.
Mothers who fail to obey court rulings will in future be ‘brought up short’, the judge said.
The warning from Sir Andrew McFarlane, one of the country’s most experienced family judges, follows a series of reforms earlier this year designed to speed up cases which decide on how separated parents will share the care of their children.
It follows years of failure to enforce orders giving fathers contact with their children. In around 4,000 cases a year fathers go back to court repeatedly to try to get access to their children because mothers defy the courts.
Judges have rarely fined or imprisoned intransigent mothers because most believe that to punish the mother would harm the children.
At one point the last Labour government considered, and then dropped, the idea of making disobedient mothers wear electronic tags.
Sir Andrew said in a speech that he hoped the reforms introduced this spring will compel more mothers to stick to the rules.
‘Where, post separation, a child lives with one parent, it is hard to underestimate the expectation that the system will now place upon that parent to respect and to meet the need for the child to have a good, sound, ordinary relationship with the other parent,’ he said.
‘These changes should, and in my view must, mark the end to what I might call the Catherine Tate approach to post-separation parenting, where the parent who holds all the trump cards, because the child is currently living with them, simply shrugs her shoulders and says to the other parent, who merely wants to see his child, “Am I bothered?”’
‘The system, the law, now requires them to be bothered. They have a responsibility to be bothered and if they persist in abdicating from that responsibility they can expect all those they encounter in and around the court system to bring them up short.’
Sir Andrew said that groups like the radical Fathers 4 Justice – which organised disruptive demonstrations at landmarks and in parliament in the 2000s – had a case.
‘Whilst deprecating some of their tactics, I had, in the course of a number of meetings, sat down in calm circumstances and listened to the stories of a number of fathers who considered that they had been profoundly let down by the system.
‘Whilst it might be that there are genuine, child focused, reasons why individual members of the various fathers’ groups have been denied contact, that could not be said of most of the individuals I have met in that context over the years. There is, in my view, a core validity to the essential complaints that these fathers make.’
More intolerance from the tolerance movement
Denmark's Parliament last week voted by a large margin to force churches belonging to the state Lutheran Church to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies inside their sanctuaries. The law goes into effect June 15.
Under the legislation, individual priests can refuse to carry out the ceremony, but they cannot forbid the ceremony from taking place in their church building.
“For the moment we [the Catholic Church] are not worried,” said Niels Messerschmidt, the Information Officer for the Catholic Diocese of Copenhagen.
“There have been some discussions in the media where people said this legislation should also [include] other religious groups,” he told Vatican Radio, “but there has not been anything from the official level.”
Messerschmidt also said more conservative members of the Lutheran Church have opposed the legislation, and the Lutheran bishops have not had a unified policy on the issue.
Well of course we should reform inheritance tax
by Tim Worstall
Another report into inheritance tax and another observation that it doesn’t actually do what it says upon the tin:
"People with estates worth many millions are able to avoid the brunt of inheritance tax through complex schemes, including moving the cash offshore or investing in agricultural land and small business shares. Those avenues are closed to “moderately well–off” people whose only assets are their home and pension, Mr Johnson said"
It’s just about possible to see that the great plutocratic fortunes should be broken up every generation or so to prevent the fossilisation of society: if that’s something you tend to worry about which we don’t very much. But to have a taxation system which attempts to do this and then doesn’t is obviously entirely dysfunctional.
Our current system manages to tax the small capital of the bourgeois while leaving those plutocrats untouched. We therefore really rather do want to change that taxation system.
This is not, I hasten to add, the official ASI line here, rather being a personal musing. But I take it as a given that we don’t actually want to tax the petit and haute bourgeois accumulations of capital. Far from it, we’d much prefer to see modest estates cascade down the generations. For reasonable amounts do provide freedom and liberty. In that currently fashionable phrase, enough to do anything but not enough to do nothing. It’s also, even if you do worry about the plutocrats, not how much money is left that is the problem but how much money is received. Someone leaving a few billions to be spread among thousands is very different from a few hundreds of millions being left to just one.
So I would muse that we might want to move to a system something like the following. It is the receipt of an inheritance which is taxable, not the leaving of one. Further, there’s a substantial lifetime exemption from having to pay tax on receiving one or many. Several millions perhaps: that need to still do something amount.
Alternatively, of course, we could just move the entire taxation system over to being a consumption tax. In that manner we don’t actually mind who has what amount of capital nor where it came from. We just tax people when they spend with the capital or the income from it. and given that that’s the general thrust of the Mirrlees Report there’s good academic backing for the plan.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.