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EU Court’s Headscarf Ban Condemned by Turkey

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Women with headscarves in Alanya, Turkey. Credit: ozgurmulazimoglu , CC BY 3.0/Wikipedia Commons

Turkey on Sunday denounced a judgment by the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) to allow companies to ban the wearing of headscarves under “certain conditions.”

The ruling was made on Thursday after cases were brought by two Muslim women in Germany who were suspended from their jobs after they began wearing headscarves at work.

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The court ruled that a company could justify its decision if they want to present a neutral image towards customers or to prevent social disputes.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement said the ruling was a sign of rising Islamophobia at a time when Muslim women in Europe are being subjected to increasing discrimination for their religious beliefs.

“At a time when Islamophobia, racism, and the poison of hatred, which took Europe hostage, are on the rise, the ECJ’s decision not only ignores freedom of religion but also provides a basis and legal cover for discrimination,” it said.

Turkey: Ban of headscarves “violation of religious freedoms”

According to Reuters, Turkey further said allowing the banning of headscarves under certain conditions is a “clear violation of religious freedoms.” The Ministry added that the current ruling would worsen prejudice against Muslim women in Europe.

“It is a fact that Muslims are exposed to intolerance, hate speech and even violence, are widely stigmatized and excluded in socio-economic fields, and especially Muslim women are adversely affected by this situation” the statement charged.

The Turkish presidency’s communication director Fahrettin Altun also condemned the move, saying “this wrong decision is an attempt to grant legitimacy to racism.”

It is unbelievable that fascism just spread to the courts.

This wrong decision is an attempt to grant legitimacy to racism.

Instead of denouncing its dark past, Europe now seeks to embrace it.

We condemn this ruling, which infringes on human dignity.

— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) July 17, 2021

Muslim headscarves cause controversy in Europe

The wearing of the traditional headscarf by Muslim women has over the years sparked controversy across Europe, underlining sharp divisions over integrating Muslims into society.

Many Muslim women wear a headscarf, often known as a hijab and in Quranic Arabic as the khimar. Many of these garments cover the hair, ears and throat, but do not cover the face.

Headscarves and veils are commonly used by observant Muslim women and girls, according to the belief that no one has the right to expose her beauty except to her husband, father, son, brother, uncles, or grandfather.

The Muslim religious dress varies, and various cultures include the burqa, chador, niqab, dupatta, or other types of hijab. The religion prescribes modest behavior or dress in general, and in particular the headscarf worn by Muslim women and girls.

European nations have been repeatedly accused by Turkey of not doing enough to prevent discrimination against Muslims. Turkey said it will start publishing an annual report on what it calls examples of Islamophobia around the world.

The ECJ in response to whether headscarf bans at work represented a violation of the freedom of religion, said such bans were possible if justified by an employer’s need to present a neutral image.

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