The EU court has made a major ruling that generated public outcry and outrage. This week, the top European Union court ruled that public authorities in member states can ban their employees from wearing signs of religious belief that include the headscarf. The decision came after an employee of the eastern municipality of Ans came forward and said that she was not allowed to wear the hijab at her place of work. In response, the court made its official ruling, claiming that it is “in order to put in place an entirely neutral administrative environment.”
This is not the first time that an employee made a complaint as the issue and debates revolving around the hijab have divided Europe for years. Back in 2021, an official court rule was made that women could be fired from their jobs if they were asked to remove their hijab if they work in a job that has them dealing with the public.
That is why the employee working for the eastern municipality of Ans came forward because she works as head of an office which is not a role where she has to deal with the public. Knowing all this, she launched a legal challenge which resulted in the EU court releasing the new court ruling banning the wearing of headscarves in the workplace. It was an effort that backfired in court.
Beyond the workplace, France employed a strict ban on religious signs in state schools and government buildings with the headscarf and religious symbols having been completely banned from state schools back in 2004.
Such bans on religious expression come with major consequences. The NGO known as Human Rights Watch said that the bans made on religious clothing and symbols for teachers in Germany led some Muslim women to completely give up on their teaching careers. While France’s 2004 law that bans wearing the headscarf and religious symbols in schools has kept some Muslim girls from completing their education.
The new court ruling is going to have an impact on the lives of many employees across Europe and many major consequences are expected in the future.