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Two women attend a protest against a ban on wearing the Islamic-style head scarves at Turkish universities, in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010. Turkey's governing party failed to win key opposition support on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010, for plans to lift a ban on the wearing of Islamic head scarves at universities, a deeply divisive issue in a country with secular laws and a Muslim population. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

A European court ruled employers can ban headscarves, including the Muslim hijab


A European court ruled Tuesday that employers can ban workers from wearing religious symbols.

That includes hijab and other head coverings worn by Islamic women, according to The Guardian.

However, a ban on head scarves and not other religious symbols would still be illegal in Europe. A blanket ban on religious symbols, including Christian crosses, Jewish yarmulkes and Sikh turbans   can be allowed if companies want to avoid projecting a biased image. But no religious symbol can be singled out.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) was ruling on the cases of two women from France and Belgium who were fired for refusing to take off their headscarves while working.  

Samira Achbita, a receptionist for London-based G4S, started wearing a headscarf after working at the company for three years. Asma Bougnaoui was fired from an IT firm after a customer complained his staff had been "embarrassed" by taking advice from a headscarf-clad woman. 

The rule thus treats all employees ... the same way, notably by requiring them.... to dress neutrally.
ECJ ruling

The ruling was heralded as a triumph by far-right groups across Europe. Germany's Alternative für Deutschland said the headscarf was a "political statement of oppression." 

Francois Fillon, a French presidential candidate, called it an "immense relief."

Supporters thought the ruling was "common sense."

But supporters thought the focus on neutrality missed the point.


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