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European Court Rules Headscarves Will Be Banned

The debate on laws surrounding religious dress continues after Europe’s highest court rules that the headscarf could be banned.

Photo by Nada Hanifah on Unsplash

Companies are now able to discriminate against employees and dismiss those wearing ‘religious symbols’. The ruling comes after two German women were discharged from their workplaces for wearing a headscarf, or hijab.

The Ban on Religious Clothing 

Businesses can sack Muslim women wearing the headscarf if they work face to face with customers or if the wearing of religious clothing causes workplace conflicts, the EU’s highest court has ruled. 

This proposed ban on the headscarf comes as no surprise after many European countries (namely France) have stated their distaste for the hijab. Belgian jurist Koen Lenaerts asserted that this ban is determined by the preferences of private businesses, who want to project an image of neutrality for their company. He stated that the ban would:

‘Constitute no discrimination based on religion or belief’.

But let’s be honest; we know that this will only affect Muslim women.

The public is not being given positive impressions of Muslims by their governments either. Boris Johnson had called Muslim women who wear burkas ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank robbers’ and Tony Blair described the face veil as ‘a mark of separation’. 

Why is the headscarf seen as dangerous?

Before the swastika was taken as the logo for the Nazis, it was a sacred symbol for many Indian religions, the word literally meaning ‘good fortune’ or ‘well being’ in Sanskrit. But today, the swastika reminds us of fascism and hate. This appropriation of religion is eerily similar to what has happened with the hijab. The word ‘hijab’ refers to the head covering generally worn by Muslim women, but today we associate it with something a little more threatening than a religious dress.

How is it that the hijab is now associated with extremism? The media have stolen the image of a Muslim woman in a headscarf and now the world associates her with terrorism and oppression. This vilification of religious images must stop. This has nothing to do with neutrality, and everything to do with legalizing Islamophobia. 

Image by Pxfuel

But the headscarf is more than just a religious symbol exclusive to Muslims; it is so much more. It is a piece of clothing, a form of worship for multiple religions, a fashion statement, and a means of modesty. But first and foremost, it is an individual choice. 

Telling women to take off their headscarves will not make the government any more secular. The majority of the British public agree with this sentiment. A public opinion poll in London showed that 75 percent of Londoners support “the right of all persons to dress in accordance with their religious beliefs”.  

What do you think? Is this ban a step forward, or a step back? 

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