Luxembourg: The Luxembourg-based European Union's highest court, the European Court of Justice on Thursday ruled that private companies can ban their employees from wearing religious symbols, including headscarves on certain conditions during their duties.
Responding to the verdict, Turkey's cabinet ministers have come down heavily onupon the decision citing that it would further deteriorate Islamophobia that prevailed in the society.
Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesperson for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish president, tweeted that the verdict would fall right into the hands of those warmongers who fight against Islam in Europe. He also termed the decision a blow to the rights of Muslim women, and asked: "Does the concept of religious freedom now exclude Muslims?"
Fahrettin Altun, Erdoğan's communication director, called that the verdict an apparent attempt to grant legitimacy to racism, and condemned the ruling that infringes on human dignity. By this ruling, Europe is embracing its dark past instead of burying it, he added.
The ruling followed cases of two Muslim women who sought verdicts from the German courts in favour of their religious freedom after they both were suspended from their respective work for wearing headscarves.
The firms where the two women had worked were reported to have told their staff not to wear any item of clothing which was considered a conscious political, philosophical or religious symbol. The women's claim of wearing headscarves as obligations to their religion had been rejected by firms.
The court ruled that a company could justify its decision if they want to present a neutral image towards customers or to prevent social disputes.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement said the ruling was a sign of rising Islamophobia "At a time when Islamophobia, racism, and the poison of hatred, which took Europe hostage, are on the rise, the ECJ's decision not only ignores freedom of religion but also provides a basis and legal cover for discrimination".
On Twitter, the European Network against Racism said that the latest ruling would "lead to justifying the exclusion of Muslim women, who are increasingly portrayed as dangerous for Europe, in the collective narrative".