This article analyses the ECtHR’s case law on Article 9 ECHR, with an emphasis on displaying religious symbols and garments in public places. It provides a theory for the better understanding of the ECtHR’s poor protection of individual believers and its deference to the member states in the light of a wide margin of appreciation, the lack of a European consensus regarding the role of religion in society in the member states and the absence of an in-depth analysis of proportionality in these cases. With the exception of Ahmet Arslan v Turkey no violation was ever found in the context of religious dresses in public places. Therefore, the article offers an explanation for the Grand Chamber’s judgment of S.A.S. v France according to the theory of religion as an ‘adjudication stopper’ for the ECtHR and it argues that this latest judgment was not surprising but in line with the Court’s rather cautious approach.
© 2017 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston