Turkey blasted a top European Union court ruling to ban headscarves in some work situations, calling it a “clear violation of religious freedoms” that fuels bias against Muslim women.
The EU Court of Justice (CJEU) in Luxembourg decided on July 15 that businesses in the EU are permitted to prohibit employees from wearing a headscarf in certain circumstances, to portray a neutral image to consumers.
However, the Turkish Foreign Ministry criticized the judgment as a symptom of rising Islamophobia. The remarks came as a growing number of Muslim women complain about experiencing discrimination in Europe because of their beliefs.
“The CJEU decision, at a time when the Islamophobia, racism, and hatred that have taken Europe hostage are rising, disregards religious freedom and creates a basis and legal cover for discrimination,” the ministry said according to Reuters.
Turkish presidential media director Fahrettin Altun echoed these concerns, claiming CJEU made the “wrong decision” in an attempt to “grant legitimacy to racism.”
For years the hijab, a traditional headscarf worn around the head and shoulders, is a point of contention across the continent due to differences of opinion about Muslim integration.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party has been chastised by Western partners. The party, which combines a pro-Western and democratic market approach, is allegedly becoming more authoritarian and intolerant of religions. The United States, Greece, Russia, and religious groups previously raised concerns about the Turkish government’s move to transform Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
Ankara has often accused European governments of failing to do enough to combat anti-Muslim prejudice. The Heart of Turkey will soon release an annual report on what it describes to be global manifestations of Islamophobia.
Relations between Ankara and the EU were previously strained on a variety of topics. These include disagreements about maritime jurisdiction and energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean, particularly with Greece.