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Europe court upholds France hijab ban

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This November 15, 2015 file photo shows Muslim women gathering in front of a memorial close to the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, two days after a series of deadly attacks. (AFP photo)

The European Court of Human Rights has struck down a case filed by a Muslim woman protesting France’s ban on Islamic hijab at workplace.

The Strasbourg-based court on Thursday upheld the ban on hijab in the case of Christiane Ebrahimian, a Muslim social worker who lost her job at a hospital in the suburb of the capital Paris in 2000 after she refused to remove her scarf.

The court said the ban does not violate Ebrahimian’s right to freedom of religion, saying France is a country which, according to its secularist constitution, cannot tolerate the expression of people’s religious beliefs at workplace.

Ebriahimian, a health worker in the psychiatric department of Nanterre hospital, was told at the time that her contract would not be renewed after patients complained about her refusal to remove her headscarf. Ebrahimain then decided to take the case to the international court.

Under the Islamic dress code, women must cover up their hair.

The European court, however, said in the Thursday ruling that wearing a headscarf is only a religious symbol and should not be exercised at workplace.

France in 2004 made the hijab ban into a broad law which also covers schoolchildren and even parents who want to accompany class outings. The ban, which views hijab as a “conspicuous” religious symbol, has   enraged Franc’s Muslim community, which is the largest in Europe.

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