Leyla Sahin v Turkey: ECHR 29 Jun 2004

(Grand Chamber) The applicant had been denied access to written examinations and to a lecture at the University of Istanbul because she was wearing an Islamic headscarf. This was prohibited not only by the rules of the university but also by the Constitution of Turkey.
Held: Article 9 does not protect every act motivated or inspired by a religion or belief, and does not ‘in all cases’ guarantee the right to behave in public in a way ‘dictated by a belief’. The court interpreted ‘prescribed by law’ for the purposes of article 9(2): ’74. The Court reiterates its established case-law, according to which the words ‘prescribed by law’ not only require that the impugned measure should have some basis in domestic law, but also refer to the quality of the law in question, requiring that it should be accessible to the person concerned and foreseeable as to its effects (see, among many other authorities, Rotaru v Romania [GC], no. 28341/95, ss52, ECHR 2000-V) . . . Further, as regards the words ‘in accordance with the law’ and ‘prescribed by law’ which appear in Article 8 to 11 of the Convention, the Court observes that it has always understood the term ‘law’ in its ‘substantive’ sense, not its ‘formal’ one; it has included both ‘written law’, encompassing enactments of lower rank than statutes (De Wilde, Ooms and Versyp v. Belgium, judgment of 18 June 1971, Series A no 12, p. 45, ss93) and regulatory measures taken by professional bodies under independent rule-making powers delegated to them by parliament (Barthold v. Germany, judgment of 25 March 1985, Series A no. 90, p.21, ss46) and unwritten law. ‘Law’ must be understood to include both statutory and judge-made ‘law’ (see, among other authorities, Sunday Times v. United Kingdom (no 1), judgment of 26 April 1979, Series A no. 30, p. 30, ss43). Judge-made law is regarded as a valid source of law under Turkish law.’


44774/98, [2004] ECHR 299, (2004) 44 EHRR 99


Worldlii, Bailii


European Convention on Human Rights 9


Human Rights

Cited by:

CitedKhan v Royal Air Force Summary Appeal Court Admn 7-Oct-2004
The defendant claimed that he had gone absent without leave from the RAF as a conscientous objector.
Held: The defendant had not demonstrated by complaint to the RAF that he did object to service in Iraq. In some circumstances where there was . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Education and Employment and others ex parte Williamson and others HL 24-Feb-2005
The appellants were teachers in Christian schools who said that the blanket ban on corporal punishment interfered with their religious freedom. They saw moderate physical discipline as an essential part of educating children in a Christian manner. . .
CitedSB, Regina (on the Application of) v Denbigh High School CA 2-Mar-2005
The applicant, a Muslim girl sought to be allowed to wear the gilbab to school. The school policy which had been approved by Muslim clerics prohibited this, saying the shalwar kameeze and headscarf were sufficient. The school said she was making a . .
CitedX, Regina (on the Application of) v Y School Admn 21-Feb-2007
The court was asked whether a school was entitled to refuse to allow a Muslim girl to wear the niqab full face veil at school. The reasons were ‘first educational factors resulting from a teacher being unable to see the face of the girl with a . .
CitedJR17 for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) SC 23-Jun-2010
The appellant was excluded from school. A female pupil related her fear of him to a teacher, but would not make a formal complaint, and the appellant was not to be told of the report or the investigation of it. There was said to have been confusion . .
See AlsoLeyla Sahin v Turkey ECHR 10-Nov-2005
(Grand Chamber) The claimant, a muslim woman complained that she had not been allowed to attend lectures wearing a headscarf.
Held: Any limitations on the right to an education must not curtail it ‘to such an extent as to impair its very . .
CitedJohns and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Derby City Council and Another Admn 28-Feb-2011
The claimants had acted as foster carers for several years, but challenged a potential decision to discontinue that when, as committed Christians, they refused to sign to agree to treat without differentiation any child brought to them who might be . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Education

Updated: 26 July 2022; Ref: scu.198551