Between Secularism and State Support of Religious Communities: An (In)Equality Dilemma
This paper discusses the concepts of ‘freedom of religion’ and ‘secularism’ in the context of the situation in Macedonia. It argues that State policies to support dominant religion(s) are not in coherence with the Constitution, the principle of equality and secularism, as well as the applicable international human rights standards. Having in mind that R. Macedonia is a secular State and that there is solid non-discrimination legislation in place, it is of interest to investigate whether such policy approaches are discriminatory. Such developments may threaten the principle of secularism, human rights and stability in a fragile multi-ethnic and multi-religious country such as R. of Macedonia.
In terms of methodology, this paper primarily focuses on the use of the normative and the empirical method. These methods are especially of use in the part where the existing legal framework in the domestic and international law is analyzed in regard to the various practices challenging the principles of secularism and equality before the law. In addition, this paper also focuses on the various reports in order to discuss and address relevant perceptions to such practices.
This article consists of four parts. Introductory remarks are provided in section I. Section II explores the notions of secularism and equality before the law. Section III explores the various institutional practices such as: religious instruction in public schools; building of religious objects with State funding and support; non-registration of religious communities; and practicing religious ceremonies in public institutions. Finally, section IV offers concluding remarks and comments.
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