The European Union’s top court ruled yesterday evening that employers are able to ban staff from wearing visibly religious symbols as they say it does not constitute “direct discrimination”.
Muslims believe this is a direct strike at women wearing the hijab in the workplace. Warda el-Kaddouri told Al Jazeera, “A ban on religious and political symbols feels to me as a disguised ban on the hijab.
“I cannot think of another symbol that will affect hundreds of thousands of people in Europe,” he continued. “By stating that veiled women can simply take off their hijab, you imply that the empowerment of women to be in control of their own body and to make individual decisions is reserved for white women only.”
The wearing of the hijab has become a hot topic across the whole of Europe, as right wing and nationalist centric parties have growin in popularity in England, France, Austria and more.
Manfred Weber, head of the centre-right European People’s Party, was fully in favour of the ruling and said, “Important ruling by the European Court of Justice: employers have the right to ban the Islamic veil at work. European values must apply in public life.“
Kim Lecoyer, president of Belgium-based Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, believes that the move confirms prejudice based on religion is ok. She said, “The court could and should have seized the opportunity to put a halt to the multiple discriminations faced by Muslim women and protect their fundamental rights, but they chose not to.”
It feels like another win for the right in Europe and another sideways step for the Western world. The ruling comes a week after Nike released athlete’s versions of the hijab. Back in November, Police in England made the hijab an official part of their uniform.