INTERVIEW: Why free zones are important and how to develop them for halal trade: Koen De Praetere03 Jul 2017
INTERVIEW: Halal hubs in Malaysia and the potential of establishing free zones for modest fashion: Dr Mohamed Amin Mohd Kassim01 Jul 2017
Remembering Gertrude Bell, the ‘woman who made Iraq’01 Jul 2017
Mubarakdeals.com sees opportunity in online-to-offline modest fashion business model in India07 Jun 2017
Weekend reading: Mosque design revisited in the face of Islamophobia, need for greater inclusion02 Jun 2017
Bringing mosques back to the heart of society31 May 2017
Mosque design breaks the shackles of the past22 May 2017
INTERVIEW-Haute Elan reveals new growth strategy to manufacture, acquire start-ups18 May 2017
Countering ‘mosquephobia’ with design11 May 2017
Fashion Revolution Week: Western modest fashion brands show peers way to ethical practices29 Apr 2017
Photo: A woman works in a stall that is a part of the 1st International Muslims Fair in Brussels September 28, 2012 / REUTERS/Yves Herman
Tue Mar 14, 2017 | 8:01am EDT | BRUSSELS
Companies may bar staff from wearing Islamic headscarves and other visible religious symbols under certain conditions, the European Union's top court ruled on Tuesday, setting off a storm of complaint from rights groups and religious leaders.
In its first ruling on a hot political issue across Europe, the Court of Justice (ECJ) found a Belgian firm which had a rule barring employees who dealt with customers from wearing visible religious and political symbols may not have discriminated against a receptionist dismissed for wearing a headscarf.
The judgment on that and a French case came on the eve of a Dutch election in which Muslim immigration is a key issue and weeks before France votes for a president in a similarly charged campaign. French conservative candidate Francois Fillon hailed the ruling as "an immense relief" that would contribute to "social peace".
But a campaign group backing the women said the ruling could shut many Muslim women out of the workforce. And European rabbis said the Court had added to rising incidences of hate crime to send a message that "faith communities are no longer welcome".
The judges in Luxembourg did find that the dismissals of the two women may, depending on the view of national courts, have breached EU laws against religious discrimination. They found in particular that the case of the French software engineer, fired after a customer complaint, may well have been discriminatory.
Reactions, however, focused on the conclusion that services firm G4S in Belgium was entitled to dismiss receptionist Samira Achbita in 2006 if, in pursuit of legitimate business interests, it fairly applied a broad dress code for all customer-facing staff to project an image of political and religious neutrality.
"BACKDOOR TO PREJUDICE"
The Open Society Justice Initiative, a group backed by the philanthropist George Soros, said the ruling "weakens the guarantee of equality" offered by EU non-discrimination laws.
"In many member states, national laws will still recognize that banning religious headscarves at work is discrimination," policy office Maryam Hmadoun said.
"But in places where national law is weak, this ruling will exclude many Muslim women from the workplace."
Amnesty International welcomed the ruling on the French case that "employers are not at liberty to pander to the prejudices of their clients". But, it said, bans on religious symbols to show neutrality opened "a backdoor to precisely such prejudice".
The president of the Conference of European Rabbis, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, complained: "This decision sends a signal to all religious groups in Europe". National court cases across Europe have included questions on the wearing of Christian crosses, Sikh turbans and Jewish skullcaps.
In the Belgian case, the ECJ said: "An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination."
It was for Belgian judges to determine whether she may have been a victim of indirect discrimination if the rule put people of a particular faith at a disadvantage. But the rule could still be justified if it was "genuinely pursued in a consistent and systematic manner" to project an "image of neutrality".
However, in the case of Asma Bougnaoui, dismissed by French software company Micropole, it said it was up to French courts to determine whether there was such a rule. If her dismissal was based only on meeting the particular customer's preference, it saw "only very limited circumstances" in which a religious symbol could be objectively taken as reason for her not to work.
(Additional reporting by Waverly Colville in Brussels and Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris; Editing by Catherine Evans)
© Thomson Reuters 2017 All rights reserved
Halal Branding & Marketing Masterclass - How to make the permissible unmissable
- Royal Chulan Hotel, Kuala Lumpure, Malaysia.
London Halal Food Festival 2017
- Tobacco Dock The Dock Tobacco Quay Wapping Lane, London. E1W 2SF
Change, Challenges and Opportunities: Strategies for a Sustainable Future in Asia
- Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
Hijab goes mainstream as advertisers target Muslim money
24 Jul 2017 | marketing-sales
Dubai billionaire-backed e-commerce venture Noon appoints new CEO
24 Jul 2017 | training-hr
Hijab cosplay takes off as Muslim women embrace fan culture
21 Jul 2017 | production
Hobby Lobby to forfeit ancient Iraqi artifacts in settlement with U.S. DOJ
06 Jul 2017 | distribution-logistics