Rights court upholds ban on headscarves in French hospitals

After deliberating over a case where a hospital worker was fired for refusing to take off her headscarf, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of the hospital stating that the ban did not affect religious freedom

Paris: Europe’s top human rights court is upholding France’s headscarf ban in the case of a Muslim social worker, who lost her hospital job because she would not remove her headscarf.

The headscarf ban, imposed in 2004, opened a rift with France’s Muslim community.  Pic for representation/AFP
The headscarf ban, imposed in 2004, opened a rift with France’s Muslim community. Pic for representation/AFP

After deliberating over the case for more than half a year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled yesterday that France’s law prohibiting people from covering their faces in public was not a violation of human rights.

France’s secular government bars public employees from displaying religious beliefs on the job.

The headscarf ban, which formally became a law banning “conspicuous” religious symbols in 2004, opened a rift with France’s Muslim community, the largest in Europe.

The Muslim population in France, which has the highest proportion of Muslims of any nation in Europe

The year in which the ‘headscarf ban’ was introduced in France

Did you know?
In 2014, the Strasbourg court also rejected a challenge to France’s general ban on the burqa — a full-face veil for women — in public places. The ban came into force in 2010. Belgium also banned the burqa in 2011.

The case

The case dates back to 2000, when Christiane Ebrahimian was working in the psychiatric department at a hospital in Nanterre. When she learnt that her contract would not be renewed as she refused to remove her headscarf despite complaints from patients, she decided to sue the hospital.

License to preach
France’s leading Muslim body called for imams to require a permit to preach in a bid to root out extremists. The French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM), said the country’s imams should be given a certificate — “like a driving licence” — that ensured they promoted a “tolerant and open Islam”.

Headscarf horror
>> PARIS: Popular fashion brand Zara has faced a huge backlash after a video emerged of a woman wearing a hijab being denied entrance to a store in Paris. In the footage, posted on YouTube on November 14, a day after the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, a woman is stopped by a security guard. The company later apologised for the incident.

 SAN DIEGO: A Muslim student at San Diego State University said she was battered on November 19 by a man who pushed and pulled her by her headscarf while making hate-related comments and threats based on her religion.

 AUCKLAND: A woman was turned away from an interview for Stewart Dawsons/Pascoes at Henderson Mall in October this year, when she refused to agree to take off her hijab.

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