New Hijab Controversies Looming in Europe

04 February 2013

Gatestone Institute 4 February 2013
By Soeren Kern

A member of the Kuwaiti delegation of the UN Human Rights Council, Malik Al-Wazzan, said France should revoke the ban [on full-face Islamic veils] to "protect the human rights in discrimination and inequalities toward foreigners and those with different beliefs." This comes as the Kuwaiti Parliament considers a draft law banning the construction of churches.

The Belgian branch of the popular Dutch department store chain HEMA has lost a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a Muslim shop assistant whose contract was not extended after she refused to stop wearing a hijab, the traditional Islamic headscarf.

The woman had worked for the store in Belgian city of Genk for two months while wearing a headscarf, but after the store manager received complaints from customers, was then asked to remove it.

The woman, a Belgian convert to Islam, had been employed as temporary sales staff; HEMA declined to renew her contract because, its representatives said, of her refusal to remove her hijab.

In its defense, representatives of the Belgian shop said that to maintain the "neutral and discreet image of HEMA, the shop did not want employees wearing any kind of religious symbols." The store then offered the woman a job in its warehouse, where she would not have direct contact with clients. She said the alternative job offer was unsatisfactory and then consulted a lawyer.

On January 2, a labor court in the nearby Belgian city of Tongeren ruled that HEMA did not have a clearly stated policy on headscarves and thus had no valid reason to dismiss the woman.

The court ordered HEMA to pay the 21-year-old woman €9,000 ($12,000), the equivalent of six month's salary, as compensation. (continue reading...)