A European Court ruling that private companies are not discriminating by preventing employees from wearing religious clothing, means that “faith communities are no longer welcome” in Europe, according to Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis.
“An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination,” the court said in a statement.
The ruling came after two lawsuits were filed by Muslim employees who were sanctioned for wearing religious symbols or prohibited from doing so.
“This decision sends signals to all religious groups in Europe,” Rabbi Goldschmidt said in a statement quoted by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).
“Europe is sending a clear message; its faith communities are no longer welcome. Political leaders need to act to ensure that Europe does not isolate religious minorities and remains a diverse and open continent.”
Rabbi Goldschmidt did not, of course, refer to the Jewish ethnostate of Israel, where religious authorities control all aspects of social life and outlaw marriage between Jews and non-Jews, and which has a very non-diverse Jews-only racial immigration policy.
One of the lawsuits that led to the ruling was by an employee of the Belgian branch of G4S, the London-listed outsourcing and security company.
After three years at the firm, the employee decided she wanted to start wearing a headscarf at work for religious reasons. She was fired in June 2006 for refusing to take off her scarf. The company said she had broken unwritten rules prohibiting religious symbols.
In the second case, a Muslim named Asma Bougnaoui was fired from a consultancy firm, Micropole, following a complaint from a customer who claimed his staff had been “embarrassed” by her headscarf while she was on their premises giving advice.
Before taking the job she had been told that wearing a headscarf might pose problems for the company’s customers.
Last summer, dozens of French municipalities banned the burkini, a full-body swimsuit favored by Muslim women, with the backing of the French government before a French court ruled the action was unconstitutional.
Marine Le Pen, the leading candidate in the presidential race in France, said she would ban Muslim headcoverings if she were elected. Asked whether she would do the same for the yarmulke, the head of Front National said she would do so to preserve equality.