You have probably heard that the European Court of Justice has ruled today that employers are entitled to ban staff from wearing any visible religious symbols, and that they cannot be found guilty of discrimination if any firm has an internal rule banning wearing any ‘political, philosophical or religious sign’. This judgement was passed in the cases of two Muslim women, who were both dismissed by their companies for refusing to remove their hijabs (headscarves).
A familiar headline
Now I am no expert on law, I merely write this based on my Muslim sentiments. Unfortunately, this type of headline is becoming all too familiar nowadays. Seldom does a week pass in which there is a negative headline in the press affecting Muslims. Be it Donald Trump passing one of his presidential orders, Mosque shootings, an extremist group claiming responsibility for a terrorist attack, or the Daily Mail doing its bit.
This latest piece of news is no different.
The judgement passed by the ECJ may be worded generically and affect many groups of people in a whole host of different ways, but there is no escape from the fact that this ruling was passed in two cases concerning…Muslims. There is a huge number of Muslim women who will undoubtedly be affected by it. How then can you blame us Muslims for feeling that this is another way of alienating us in western societies?
Let's ban inconsistencies instead
On the one hand, there are movements that show acceptance of diversity and celebrate it across Europe. There is the prized trophy of democracy we like to protect at all costs; one where freedom of speech and expression is regarded as integral. Yet on the other, there is a paradox of regulating what women – Muslim women in many cases – can and cannot wear, either in public or workplaces. There are already regulations in effect in parts of Europe: France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Austria and the German state of Bavaria already have bans on veils in place, directly affecting Muslim women.
Where is the consistency? What is it we want? Because sadly, it doesn’t seem like we’re accepted and wanted in Europe, nor in #Donald Trump’s US.