French court upholds nursery headscarf ban

Ruling is the latest in an extended legal battle between the secular state and Muslim minority since ban on headscarf.

Last updated: 27 Nov 2013 15:43
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Muslim women protest French decision in 2004 barring them from wearing headscarves in state schools [Getty]

A Paris appeal court has upheld a nursery's decision to fire a female employee who insisted she be allowed to wear a headscarf to work.

The ruling on Wednesday overturned a March 2013 verdict deeming the creche guilty of religious discrimination for sacking Fatima Afif in 2008.

It comes as the European Court of Human Rights began deliberations on France's ban on the burqa, or the full-face cover, which dragged the country's secular authorities into a winding legal battle with the large Muslim minority since its issuance.

Afif, upon returning from a five-year maternity break, was fired from her job at the private Baby-Loup nursery in the Paris suburb of Chanteloup-les-Vignes after she refused to remove her veil while at work, according to France 24 news.

This was refused by head of the day nursery who cited the establishment's rules that employees had to be neutral in terms of philosophy, politics and faith. Afifi was then expelled after a deadlock with the management.  

On Tuesday, the International League for Women's Rights, a leading feminist group, sent a letter to the European Court of Human Rights urging it to uphold France's ban on burqas.

"The full-face veil, by literally burying the body and the face, constitutes a true deletion of the woman as an individual in public," the head of the group, Annie Sugier, said in the letter. The group was founded by  founded by Simone de Beauvoir.

While the verdict was hailed by supporters of secular education, it was denounced by Muslim organisations who see the emphasis put on secular principles as a way of singling out their community.


Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.