The Multilocal Genesis and Migration of the European Face Veil Bans
Since 2010, Europe has seen the enactment of bans on face veils in the public space in several European jurisdictions. The French and Belgian face veil bans have been challenged and upheld in the European Court of Human Rights in three instances. These bans have caused a vast amount of scholarly literature; most of which criticizes the face veil bans for being unjustified restrictions on the freedom of religion. However, the current literature does not account for how this legally questionable but nonetheless politically popular idea could migrate swiftly through multiple different jurisdictions regardless of their Church-State relations. Thus, the objective of this article is to illuminate the migratory dynamics that have led France, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, and Denmark to adopt the same legal strategy towards the perceived dangers of the Islamic face veil. By applying the metaphor of migration of constitutional ideas to the legislative histories of the five case studies as well as the links between them, this article demonstrates how the idea of banning face veils cannot be traced back to a single jurisdiction or legal tradition. Rather it has emerged through a vivid cross-jurisdictional and multilocal political and legal discourse. This in turn may explain why the idea of banning face veils could migrate rapidly as soon as it found a legally viable justification, namely the principle of “living together”.