European Rabbis Slam EU Court Ruling on Religious Symbol Bans

Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, issued a scathing statement slamming Tuesday’s first ruling by the European Union’s top court on the issue of women wearing Islamic headscarves at work.

According to the precedent-setting decision, employers may bar staff from wearing visible religious symbols.

“This decision sends signals to all religious groups in Europe. With the rise of racially motivated incidents and today’s decision, Europe is sending a clear message; its faith communities are no longer welcome,” the statement read.

“Political leaders need to act to ensure that Europe does not isolate religious minorities and remains a diverse and open continent.”

On the eve of a Dutch election in which Muslim immigration has been a key issue and a bellwether for attitudes to migration and refugee policies across Europe, the Court of Justice (ECJ) gave a joined judgment in the cases of two women, in France and Belgium, who were dismissed for refusing to remove headscarves.

“An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination,” the Court said in a statement.

“However, in the absence of such a rule, the willingness of an employer to take account of the wishes of a customer no longer to have the employer’s services provided by a worker wearing an Islamic headscarf cannot be considered an occupational requirement that could rule out discrimination.”

1 reply
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Tuesday that an employer has the right to forbid his or her employees from wearing visible religious symbols.

    The ruling was given as the result of two cases in which two Muslim women, one from Belgium and the other from France, had been fired for wearing headscarves at their places of employment.

    The Court said in a statement that “an internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination.”

    On the other hand, while a company is free, according to the ruling, to prohibit the public display of religious articles based on its own internal set of rules, it cannot impose such restrictions based on a customer complaint.

    “In the absence of such a [company] rule, the willingness of an employer to take account of the wishes of a customer no longer to have the employer’s services provided by a worker wearing an Islamic headscarf cannot be considered an occupational requirement that could rule out discrimination,” the Court said.

    While the ruling did not relate to Jewish religious articles of clothing in particular, the wording of the ruling leaves room for such a case.

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