Businesses’ newly affirmed ability to ban headscarves likely to continue in Post-Brexit UK

On Tuesday (14 March), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled against two Muslim women who claimed employment discrimination after being fired from their jobs for wearing hijab, modest religious dress which includes a headscarf.

British legal experts say that the ruling will automatically remain enforced in the UK until it has actually split from the EU. This process will take about 2 years. After this period, it is unlikely that a British court would overturn the ruling.

A related British court case in 2012 had the opposing outcome. A guard at Buckingham Palace successfully opposed the military’s opposition to his turban. While this court case does not directly overturn this ruling, it opens possibilities for future opposition.

A 2007 British airways ban on Christian crosses was also struck down in court because headscarfs and turbans were permitted for religious reasons. The grounds for this decision were that the ban did not treat religious groups equally.

UK employers and legal experts, however, do not see the ruling as a major reversal of British legal approaches of the past. One reason for this is that companies still cannot ban religious garb for any reason other than “neutrality” of uniforms, including if customers complain. The courts in the UK will still likely avoid extreme positions on individual cases.

Muslims organisations in the UK, including the Muslim Council of Britain, see the ruling as an affront to equality.

 

Police: Anti-Muslim bigot beat Sikh cab driver

A Federal Way man accused of viciously beating a Sikh cab driver while shouting anti-Muslim slurs now faces a hate crime charge.

King County prosecutors contend Jamie W. Larson attacked the cab driver during an Oct. 17 ride after commenting on the man’s turban.  According to charging documents, Larson, 48, tore out chunks of the man’s beard during the assault, which also loosened one of the driver’s teeth.

According to charging documents, the STITA Taxi driver arrived at the Auburn police station to retrieve Larson. During the drive to Larson’s Federal Way home, Larson began questioning the driver about his turban.

Larson then attacked the driver while making anti-Muslim comments, a Federal Way detective told the court. The driver was able to stop the car in the 1200 block of Southwest 301st Street, where police found him injured and Larson attempting to return to the parked taxi.

During the attack, Larson pulled out parts of the driver’s beard and punched him repeatedly, according to charging documents. Police report the attack left the driver dazed and with a loose tooth.

UN Human Rights Decision Backs French Sikhs

News Agencies – January 13, 2012

A Sikh man in France has won the backing of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in his fight over religious headgear. It said France was violating Sikhs’ religious freedom by forcing them to remove their turbans when having photos taken for passports and ID cards. Ranjit Singh, 76, said he had turned to the UN because he found the French policy disrespectful and unnecessary.

Sikhs in France have been fighting a long battle over the turban. In 2004 France passed a law banning religious signs in schools. This included turbans and Muslim headscarves.

In 2008 the European Court of Human Rights dismissed an appeal on grounds of security.

It said that whilst Shingara Singh’s religious rights had been infringed, France was justified to ban the turban on the driver’s licence photo because the turban posed a security risk of fraud and falsification. That is when Ranjit Singh decided to file a case to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC). It has now judged that a turban does not pose a risk to security.

Fire damages office of French newspaper after it ‘invites’ Mohammed as guest editor

News Agencies – November 2, 2011

A fire early November 2nd caused serious damages at the headquarters of a satiric French newspaper that “invited” the Prophet Mohammed as a guest editor. A police official said the fire broke out overnight at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, and the cause remains unclear. No injuries were reported. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because an investigation into the fire is under way. Police cited a witness saying that someone was seen throwing two firebombs at the building.

Newspaper employees said they had received numerous threats as a result of the issue, subtitled “Sharia Hebdo,” in reference to Islamic law. The front-page of the weekly showed a cartoon-like man with a turban, white robe and beard smiling broadly and saying, in an accompanying bubble, “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.”

Page 2, called “Sharia Madame,” is made up of a series of cartoons featuring women in burkas, the face-covering robes. And the paper’s tongue-in-cheek editorial, signed “Mohammed ,” follows on page 3, centred on the victory last week of Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party in the nation’s first free election – and saying that the party’s real intention is imposing Islam not democracy. Leading French politicians, citing the right to freedom of expression, condemned the attack on the paper.

Cartoonist’s attacker charged with terrorism

Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist who is known for his depiction of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a fuse, was attacked in his home January 1st by a Somali man armed with a knife and an axe. The 28 year old Somali man is now charged with the most severe paragraph of terrorism according to Danish law. The so-called ‘terror-paragraph’ is rarely used and the Minister of Justice has to approve the use of it. He has done so in the case of the attack on Westergaard
The Somali man will not only be indicted on the assault with intent to kill Westergaard but also on assault with intent to kill a police officer who was keeping guard outside Westergaards home.

India requests Sikh turbans be granted leniency in French identity card photos

The Indian government has requested that the French remove the rule that Sikh men must remove their turbans for identity photographs. According to minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur, India has taken up the issue of French authorities taking photographs as identity markers and conveyed that if Sikhs are photographed without turbans, it would create a faulty database. “The plea that we have taken is that the French government is taking photographs and fingerprints as identity markers. However, if Sikhs are photographed without turbans, then they are accumulating wrong records because normally, a Sikh will always wear a turban,” Kaur said.

So far, all attempts made by Sikhs to convince the French government have failed. The 4,000-strong Sikh community in France maintains that it needs a commitment in writing from the French government ensuring that Sikh children who have graduated from the French education system will be free to work in any government job with their turban.

Politiken journalists reject prophet drawing apology

The Danish newspaper Politiken, which has around 200 staff members, on February 26 apologized for offending Muslims with the 2008 reprint but did not apologize for reprinting the cartoon.

Thirty-eight staff members of Politiken issued a letter on Saturday March 6 saying they are against the newspaper’s apology for offending Muslims by reprinting a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb-shaped turban.

In a letter published in the newspaper, the editorial staff said “Politiken has nothing to apologize for.”

“The settlement gives the impression that we regret our journalism, something there is no basis for whatsoever,” they wrote, saying democratic journalism entails “describing reality as precisely as possible and to encourage social debate.” They also said they fear the settlement could interfere with their editorial freedom.

The European Court of Human Rights rejects complaints against France

The European Court of Human Rights has thrown out the human rights complaints of French parents who deemed it wrong their children were excluded from public schools because of their conspicuous religious signs (i.e. their hijabs and turbans). Instead, the European Court claimed that that it supported the law for it seeks to protect children from exclusion and does not view the March 2004 law as a hindrance of religious rights.

Sikh man loses right to wear turban in driving license photo after EU court ruling

A Sikh man who wanted the right to wear a turban while being photographed for his French drivers’ licence has lost his case in the European Court of Human Rights.

Shingara Mann Singh, a French national, lost a series of appeals in France against the authorities who refused to issue a new license with a photograph of him wearing a turban.

Under French regulations, motorists must appear ‘bareheaded and facing forward’ in their license photographs, but the Sikh religion requires men to wear a turban at all times.

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