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.