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Freedom of Religion or Belief - An International Law Commentary by Bielefeldt, Prof Heiner; Ghanea, Nazila, Dr; Wiener, Michael, Dr (21st January 2016)

Part 1 Freedom of Religion or Belief, 1.3.4 Observance of Holidays and Days of Rest

Heiner Bielefeldt, Nazila Ghanea, Michael Wiener

From: Freedom of Religion or Belief: An International Law Commentary

Prof Heiner Bielefeldt, Nazila Ghanea, Michael Wiener

Religion — Freedom of association — Freedom of expression — Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion — Minorities — Right to education — Right to work

This chapter discusses some relevant issues concerning the observance of holidays and days of rest in a State. Many of the annual public holidays at the domestic level as well as the week days of rest (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) are set in line with a country’s religious celebrations. By designating the weekly day of rest and public holidays for all individuals within its territory, the State inevitably favours the traditions of some religions or beliefs, often to the disadvantage of minority communities, especially for those that are not recognized by the State. Since societies have become increasingly multi-religious, the designation of holidays and days of rest leads to serious problems for individual believers in the context of employment, education, and administration of justice. Moreover, there have been discussions about a right not to celebrate holidays and with regard to promoting ‘reasonable accommodation’ for members of religious or belief minorities.

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