It was announced yesterday that The European court of Justice had ruled that employers can ban visible religious symbols (headscarf’s included). This law is backed by the highest court of justice in Europe and it serves as a serious threat to justice, freedom and equality. These are the key things that the EU must uphold while also clearly going against the EU equality law, more specifically the employment directive, which is meant to -amongst other things- protect employees from discriminations based on religion. This is the second time the court was asked to make a ruling on issues brought by women who were victim of unfair dismissal by employers for wearing the hijab.
It is a fact that Muslim women are one of the most targeted groups in Europe and this is as a result of expressing their faith in public and at work in particular. Quite a lot of Muslims remain employed, but they face a triple penalty with gender ethnicity and religion. Looking at the stats; 44% of employees in Belgium are facing a triple penalty with gender ethnicity and religion and in France, the percentage of Muslim women wearing headscarf that are applying for job has a 1% return rate.
The ruling made yesterday will alienate Muslim women from the workplace. This will prevent them from strengthening their economic independence as well as their emancipation in society. It is believed that The Court of Justice is meant to defend the weak as well as uphold universal values of freedom and equal rights. Since the Muslim ban in the United States, the world now opens its arm on an effective ban visible Muslim women.
As of today, The European Forum of Muslim Women (a network of Muslim Women organisations working all across Europe) on behalf of its members are currently working for Muslim Women that will be directly and indirectly affected by this ruling. They strongly condemns and deplores the decision rendered today by the European Court of Justice.
It should also be known that The European Forum of Muslim women is here and would continue to advocate for equal rights and freedom of religion and thought in a pluralistic Europe, albeit in an increasingly difficult and populist political context.