“Laws, policies and practices banning religious clothing are targeted manifestations of Islamophobia that seek to exclude Muslim women from public life or make them invisible,” said Maryam H’madoun, policy officer at the Open Society Justice Initiative, in a statement. “Discrimination disguised as ‘neutrality’ is the veil that must be lifted. “
In the United States, by contrast, federal labor laws require employers to “allow applicants and employees to observe religious clothing and grooming practices,” according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Discrimination against Muslims, as well as anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant sentiments, are on the rise across the continent. The Council of Europe warned this month that hate speech against these groups, especially online, had become a “growing and dangerous trend” during the pandemic.
Several countries, including France, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands, have passed laws effectively banning full face veils in public spaces, although the hijab, which covers the head and shoulders, does not ‘does not fall into this category.
In recent years, however, the European Court of Justice, as well as national courts in EU countries, have supported policies that broadly prohibit women from wearing headscarves when working in the private sector.