Turkey criticizes European court’s ruling on headscarf ban

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan

FILE – In this Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019 file photo, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his ruling party legislators at the Parliament in Ankara, Turkey. During the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign, Joe Biden drew ire from Turkish officials after an interview with The New York Times in which he called Erdogan an “autocrat.” (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici, File)

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman on Sunday condemned a European Union court decision to allow employers to ban staff wearing Muslim headscarves as appeasing Islamophobia.

“The decision by the European Court of Justice on headscarf in the workplace is another blow to the rights of Muslim women with headscarf and will play right into the hands of those warmongers against Islam in Europe,” Ibrahim Kalin tweeted.

“Does the concept of religious freedom now exclude Muslims?!”

The European Court of Justice on Thursday ruled that companies can ban employees wearing religious or political symbols if firms “desire to pursue a policy of political, philosophical and religious neutrality with regard to its customers or users.”

The ruling applies to any symbols where there is a “genuine need” for a ban.

The Luxembourg-based court’s ruling reaffirms a 2017 decision. The case has been seen as contradicting a European Court of Human Rights decision from 2013 that allowed Christian crosses to be worn at work.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday that the latest decision came as “Islamophobia, racism and hatred that have taken Europe hostage are rising, disregards religious freedom and creates a basis and legal cover for discrimination.”

Erdogan’s government often criticizes Western institutions for what it says are attacks on Muslim citizens’ rights.

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