Baby Loup: The Court of Appeals Confirms the Dismissal of the Veiled Employee

June 25, 2014

Fatima Afif, the Muslim employee who wore a headscarf to the Baby Loup crèche in Chanteloup-les-Vignes, has lost her fight in the French courts. On Wednesday, June 25 the court delivered an official and final ruling on the case, which has been an ongoing legal battle for four years. According to Le Monde the dismissal was “indeed well justified.”

The court ruled that according to labor law, a private enterprise, or an association as in the case of the Baby Loup crèche, can “limit an employee’s freedom to display religious beliefs,” in certain justifiable cases. Baby Loup had its own set of internal rules, which state, “The principle of the freedom of conscience and of religion of each of its personnel cannot interfere with the principle of secularism and of neutrality that applies to the performance of its activities.”

Afif’s lawyer argued that “the Court of Appeals did not solve the question of Islam through the veil in France, it solved the problem of the Baby Loup crèche.” In contrast, Baby Loup’s lawyer Patrice Spinosi stated that the outcome represented “a big decision” that will have lasting effects on other organizations.

Ten Years On: The Ban on the Muslim Veil in France Raises Continuing Questions

March 23, 2014

 

The report published by the newspaper le Monde on the 10th anniversary of France’s ban on the Muslim veil in public educational institutions in France deserves to be read and meditated to draw the main conclusion on the French model of secularism in facilitating discrimination against Muslims.

 

The editors of the report confirm that there has been wide compliance with the French law banning the wearing of the hijab by Muslim girls in public schools.  However, that result does not mean that the law has addressed or resolved the problems it was intended to address, and in fact it may have created more problems.  Indeed, the choices for girls are limited: girls either choose to adhere to their faith and permanently abandon their studies as has happened in some rare cases, or they move to private institutions with all of the related financial burdens, or they study by correspondence, or, finally, they comply with the law by removing the veil, and put it on again at the end of the academic term.

 

The effects of this law have not been limited to public educational institutions, but have expanded into the whole public space.  This broadening of the ban occurred in 2010 with new laws adopted in secular Europe, banning the Muslim veil in public places. It didn’t stop there, however.  As a result of actions of both the right and the left in 2013, the request was made to ban the veil in public halls and theaters, and also in private companies. And then things got even more extensive, reaching mothers accompanying their children to school:  should or shouldn’t they be allowed to wear their veils?

 

In 2003, the sociologist Jean Baubérot (the only one to have abstained from voting on the ban on veils in the Stasi Commission that is charged with implementing the secularism system in France) had a long-term vision because he believed that over time, the veil ban would lead to the demonization of this religious symbol and the despising submission of Muslim women… and if the veil were banned in public educational institutions, later inevitably the ban would be adopted elsewhere with further laws enacted. And this is what actually happened. Things began with banning the veil/headscarf in schools, then in public spaces, and now the regulation is becoming widespread everywhere.  And who knows, perhaps tomorrow there will be new justifications for imposing the French secular model into the private sphere!

But the truth is that this narrow view of the interpretation of the secularism notion in France, in opposition to the wider and more informed conception “in vogue” in several European nations, has found its starting point in the idea of protecting secularism. But such an approach will inevitably lead to a pernicious form of racism against Muslims, and it will extend to their private space, in violation of the principle of freedom of belief. More serious again, the veil will give rise to a dangerous phobia of Muslims in France, for no other reason than the active presence of people who prefer the safe approach to the application of secularism, without worrying about finding intermediate solutions and/or gateways between respect for individual freedom and the neutrality of the State towards religions.

So what would France have lost if it had bypassed the problem by considering the veil as a sign of cultural belonging and not a religious symbol, such as in the United Kingdom, where the government adopted a more intelligent attitude which harmonized the two great secular principles (public neutrality towards religions and protection of individual freedoms), but did not infringe upon the freedoms of Muslim women?

Great Britain and other European countries have succeeded in using this approach to avoid dangerous endeavors that inevitably lead to the demonization of the Muslim veil and then to the demonization of Muslims in general and, even more generally, the demonization of Islam as a religion. The failure of the French policy is that it arrives at exactly the opposite of secularism, namely racism and incitement to hatred.

Therefore, we believe that 10 years after the implementation of the law on the veil, and the events that have followed after that in France, it is necessary that French secularism not only revises its founding principles, but also its security approaches that have redefined somehow these same principles. The goal now in France should be to pursue a course that takes greater account of the more moderate and open European secular models.

 

Source: http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2014/03/126164/ten-years-on-the-ban-on-the-muslim-veil-in-france-raises-continuing-questions/

A report in Le Monde on the 10th anniversary of French headscarf ban: ‘Ten Years After the Headscarf Ban: New Tensions’

March 15, 2014

 

A report in Le Monde on the 10th anniversary of French headscarf ban: ‘Ten Years After the Headscarf Ban: New Tensions’

 

Source: http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2014/03/15/voile-apres-dix-ans-d-interdiction-de-nouvelles-tensions_4383602_3224.html

 

(Note: needs a subscription to Le Monde to access full article)

Headscarf ban prevents far right coalition in the Hague

While the far right Freedom Party (PVV), headed by Geert Wilders, came in second in municipal elections in the Hague last month, their position on the headscarf has prevented them from forming a ruling coalition. The party is insisting on a headscarf ban in municipal buildings, a condition which no other party will accept in forming a coalition. The party came second in the municipal elections, winning 16.8% of the vote and eight of the 45 municipal council seats. However, given its insistence on the headscarf ban, officials no longer consider it a possible coalition party.

Muslim woman sues political party for inciting hatred

A Muslim woman from Almere is suing a local politician, Raymond de Roon, for discrimination and inciting hatred. De Roon is the local leader of the Freedom Party (PVV), a party whose aim is to ban headscarves in publicly funded institutions. It is unclear whether such a ban will occur, as no other political faction supports the PVV on this point.

Headscarf ban in Flemish public schools suspended

The Flemish school board introduced a ban in September 2009 in the region’s Dutch-language public schools, along with a prohibition on the wearing of all religious symbols for pupils and teachers. Responding to a complaint by a Muslim student at a school in the northern town of Antwerp, Belgium’s state council — the highest authority on administrative matters — ordered “the suspension of the execution of this decision,” according to a statement.

Schools in Flanders that are financed by other Belgian communities — mostly Catholic schools run by municipalities — are not bound by the order. The veil in schools debate is also underway in Belgium’s other main communities, French-speaking Wallonia and the Brussels capital region.

Last week a Muslim mathematics teacher in a municipal school in the French-speaking industrial city of Charleroi won a legal battle to wear a veil in class, when an appeals court overturned a lower court decision. Meanwhile the Belgian federal government will begin debating a proposal to ban women from wearing the full-face niqab and burqa in public.

The veil will not be banned in Zurich schools

Zurich cantonal authorities have decided not to ban the wearing of veils in schools. The cantonal parliament rejected by 104 votes to 65 a motion put forward by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) which wanted to ban the veil in places of education “in order to makes Swiss values respected in schools”. The motion had also wanted to do away with a special exemption for Muslims from swimming lessons during Ramadan.

Among those who rejected the motion on Monday, the centre-right Radicals said the current cantonal recommendations were “absolutely sufficient”, while the Green Liberals called the motion highly “intolerant”. Last year, the Swiss People’s Party, currently the largest party in Switzerland, championed an initiative to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland.

New discussions on headscarf ban in Austria

The secretary of Austria’s social democrat party SPÖ, Laura Rudas, has stirred a new headscarf debate. While she heavily criticised the alleged “headscarf constraint” among Austrian Muslims, she later clarified that she does not support a headscarf ban, but wants to achieve a voluntary refusal to wear it in the first place by investing in education.

In an interview with Iraqi-born Omar Al-Rawi of the SPÖ, the politician claims that a new headscarf debate is misleading and unnecessary and emphases the importance equal opportunities for Muslim migrants. Sirvan Ekici, of Turkish background an member of the ÖVP, supports this view by saying that Islam-related debates only disguise the underlying social problems. Both of them admit that Austria has not showed the best performance in integration so far, but that it is on the right track and needs continuous emphasis on and investment into these issues.

Canadian Conservative Government Announces it Won’t Make Voters Lift their Headscarves

The Canadian federal government has quietly dropped the idea of forcing veiled women to show their faces if they want to vote in Canadian elections. The loss of interest comes just as the issue of face coverings is heating up overseas, with President Nicolas Sarkozy declaring that the Islamic burka is “not welcome” in France. Steven Fletcher, Canada’s Minister of State for Democratic Reform, confirmed Thursday that the government has no plan to proceed with legislation requiring voters to uncover their faces. A spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the minority government still supports the idea of forcing voters to reveal their faces, but won’t move forward as all three opposition parties have signalled they wouldn’t support legislation.

Headscarf ban extended to social services

The headscarf ban in Antwerp is now being extended to personnel in the social services (OCMW). Two employment counselors were given a choice to either remove their headscarves, or move to the complaints department, where citizens won’t see them. One woman refused to remove her headscarf and was transferred to the complaints department, while the other woman is still thinking things over. Last year, Antwerp’s city council approved a controversial uniform code; civil servants who come into contact with residents may not wear external symbols of life outlook convictions. OCMW chairperson Monica De Coninck justified the decision, while OCMW councilor Dirk Geldof fears that extending the headscarf ban to the OCMW would create a dangerous precedent.