Women can be sacked for wearing a hijab, highest EU court rules

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From the Telegraph

Women are allowed to be sacked by employers for refusing to remove their hijabs, Europe’s highest court has ruled. EU judges decreed that businesses can ban employees from wearing a headscarf under certain conditions if they need to do so to project an image of neutrality to customers.

They were asked to make a judgment on two German cases after two female employees – one a cashier and the other a support worker for children with special needs – were threatened with suspension for wearing the hijab.  

The EU Muslim Network has warned that the ruling could stoke Islamophobia in the EU.

Suliaman Wilms, who works for the organisation, told the Telegraph: “This judgment is not just a blow against active, dynamic and working Muslim women, it’s the confirmation of an ongoing European trend to constrain the religious expression of their faith and spiritual life praxis.”

The ECJ’s ruling gives national courts in all of the EU’s 27 member states the legal power to rule similarly in cases of employers demanding women remove their headscarves. The two cases which were brought before the court this time related to women who had decided to start wearing the hijab after they had returned to work following parental leave. Neither woman was wearing one when she was hired.

Shaista Aziz, an anti-racism and women’s rights campaigner, argued the EU court’s ruling is symptomatic of wider issues of racism and sexism. “Europe’s obsession with Muslim women’s clothing choices and specifically the hijab is entwined with Islamophobia, racism and misogyny,” Ms Aziz told The Independent. “While European the continent grapples with Covid, rising levels of inequalities and social injustice – why is it that the hijab and Muslim women are the focus of politicians? These politicians are fuelling the far right and rampant anti-Muslim hate and Islamophobia.”

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