Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin - Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions?

Read more

FOCUS

Pakistan's Ahmadis living in fear of extremist attacks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users show solidarity with Iraqi Christians

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Gilles Kepel, Islamic and Arab world specialist

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Argentina braced for another debt default

Read more

DEBATE

Too Late for Sanctions? Pressure Mounts on Russia over Ukraine (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Too Late for Sanctions? Pressure Mounts on Russia over Ukraine

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

'What would you do?'

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola virus: Liberia shuts most border points

Read more

  • Graphic: Ebola spreads across West Africa

    Read more

  • In pictures: ن - a sign of support for Iraq’s persecuted Christians

    Read more

  • EU broadens sanctions on Russia over Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Calls mount to ban France’s ‘violent’ Jewish Defence League

    Read more

  • Venezuela: Hugo Chavez’s ‘little bird’ strikes again

    Read more

  • France extradites suspected Jewish Museum shooter to Belgium

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Rare Sri Lankan leopard cubs born in French zoo

    Read more

  • France evacuates its nationals from Libya

    Read more

  • Israeli strikes target symbols of Hamas power

    Read more

  • US says Russia violated arms treaty by testing cruise missile

    Read more

  • Argentina in last-ditch effort to avert default

    Read more

  • Karzai’s cousin killed in Afghan suicide attack

    Read more

  • Libya oil tanker fire blazes out of control

    Read more

  • In pictures: From Gaza to Mosul, bittersweet end of Ramadan for Muslims

    Read more

  • Moroccan police arrest French al Qaeda recruiter

    Read more

France

French veil ban upheld in controversial court case

Text by Thomas HUBERT

Latest update : 2013-11-27

A Paris court has ruled the sacking of a Muslim crèche worker for wearing a headscarf was legal, but another woman's challenge to the contentious legislation goes up before the European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday.

A French court has upheld the controversial sacking of a childcare worker who wore a headscarf to work, as the European Court of Human rights begins to examine another woman’s challenge against France’s Islamic veil ban.

In a case that has gripped France for five years, a Paris appeals court ruled on November 27 that the dismissal of nursery worker Fatima Afif was legal.

Baby-Loup, the crèche employing Fatima Afif in the multicultural Parisian suburb of Chanteloup-les-Vignes, fired her in 2008 after she refused to remove her Islamic headscarf at work.

Secular France bans religious signs in public educational institutions.

Discrimination?

A guide to the four main types of Muslim veil

But the Court of Cassation ruled last March that privately-owned Baby-Loup had discriminated against its employee on religious grounds.

France’s highest court then sent her case to the Paris appeals court for retrial.

The judge followed the advice of the state prosecutor, who had asked for the sacking to be confirmed in the name of France’s secularism.

Wednesday’s ruling states that the crèche had a “public service mission” and had a right to “impose neutrality on its personnel”.

Fatima Afif’s lawyer said it was “likely” that she would again appeal the ruling. “The court has invented an obligation to protect young children’s freedom of conscience, which does not exist in the law,” Michel Henry said.

The lawyer defending Baby-Loup, Richard Malka, welcomed the ruling because it “reaffirms the strength of secularism”.

A survey of French citizens by the BVA polling firm last month showed that more than 80% of respondents supported her dismissal and called for the ban on religious signs or symbols to be extended to private workplaces.

But a commission created by President François Hollande after his election last year concluded that there was no need to update existing legislation.

Full veil ban challenged in Europe

In a separate case, the European Court sitting in the eastern French city of Strasbourg is scheduled to hear the complaint of a 23-year-old French Muslim woman identified by her initials S.A.S.

According to a summary of the case published by the court, S.A.S. sued the French State on April 11, 2011, when legislation banning people from covering their faces in public places came into force.

The law was passed under former president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010. His government wrote in the legislative bill that “wearing a full veil is a rejection of the values of the Republic”.

The government also argued that because only women wore full veils, they undermined gender equality.

In her submission, S.A.S. advocated for her right to wear the face-covering burqa or niqab.

She said she wanted to wear such garments in some circumstances, including in public places, and was not under pressure from her family to do so.

“Her aim is not to annoy others but to feel at peace with herself,” she told the court.
S.A.S. argued that the French law violated six articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, including freedom of religion and respect for private life.

Echoing the Baby-Loup case, her submission includes two references to “discrimination” because of her choice of clothing in accordance with her religious belief.

The European Court has taken the unusual decision of referring S.A.S.’s case directly to its highest Grand Chamber.
 

Date created : 2013-11-27

  • FRANCE

    French veil sacking case goes back to court

    Read more

  • Is the famous French principle of secularism under threat?

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    French girl attempts suicide after ‘veil attack’

    Read more

COMMENT(S)