Turkish ministers criticized a European Union court ruling to allow employers to ban headscarves in their workplaces, saying it was “a blow to the rights of Muslim women” and ” would confer legitimacy on racism ”.
The EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), ruled on Thursday that private employers can ban workers from wearing religious symbols, including headscarves, in their workplace.
In response Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish president, tweeted that the move would encourage Islamophobia. “The decision of the European Court of Justice on [headscarves] in the workplace is another blow to the rights of Muslim women, ”he wrote. He said it would “play into the hands of these warmongers against Islam in Europe” and asked: “Does the concept of religious freedom now exclude Muslims?
Fahrettin AltunErdoğan’s communications director called the decision unbelievable and “an attempt to legitimize racism”.
“Instead of denouncing its dark past, Europe is now seeking to embrace it,” he said. “We condemn this decision which undermines human dignity.
The decision came after two separate cases were brought to German courts by Muslim women who were prevented from wearing their headscarves at work. The first, a nursery nurse, was hung up twice from her workplace and received a written warning for wearing her headscarf. The daycare had prohibited staff from wearing religious symbols to work.
The second woman, a saleswoman in a pharmacy, was ordered not to wear any clothing considered to be a conscious political, philosophical or religious symbol. But the worker said her headgear was compulsory for her religion and refused the pharmacist’s ban.
The ECJ said employers must show a “real need” for the ban, such as the “legitimate wishes” of customers, including by presenting a “neutral image towards customers or to prevent labor disputes”.
The headscarf issue has been dividing Europe for years. In 2017, there was a ruling that companies could prohibit staff from wearing headscarves and other visible religious symbols under certain conditions.
On Twitter, the European Network Against Racism said the latest decision “would lead to justifying the exclusion of Muslim women, who are increasingly presented as dangerous for Europe, in the collective narrative”.