The rise of anti-Islamic sentiment and xenophobia has unfortunately become increasingly widespread in Europe. Recent events have proved that intolerance and racism have become accepted forms of behavior against minorities – even on open public display.
Two weeks ago, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that is situated in Luxembourg addressed religious attire. The new legislation allowed workplaces to ban workers from applying their religious requirements. This ruling binds all member European states with legislation that permits company regulations to ban the Muslim women's hijab at their own will. Therefore, there is no policy to protect Muslim women from practicing their religious freedom in the workplace.
Muslims no longer feel safe in Europe. Their rights to religious freedom and to wear required forms of modest clothing, especially the "hijab" for women, have been openly discussed in such a way so as to permit open discrimination on a legal level that is now backed by European law.
Following this, Muslim women who wear a hijab may be denied access to a job that they are capable of getting on merit and performance. Prior to this newly suggested legal ruling, companies would never be able to openly admit that they were rejecting a candidate based on religious attire or appearance. This is immoral and unjust. The lack of good manners and basic forms of etiquette are completely denied. Why? Just because a Muslim woman wishes to don a hijab to go about her daily life at work, now suddenly this becomes an issue for the ECJ. The paradox in itself is against all human dignity.
Prior to the new legislation, European values claimed to provide equal opportunities to all citizens, regardless of religion and ethnic background. However, with the new legislation and policy, which is open to abuse, freedom of faith through religious attire no longer enables Muslim women with a hijab to have democratic rights.
Sadly, many Muslim women who wear a hijab have become targets and victims of unfortunate discrimination. They have been forced to endure public harassment, verbal abuse and physical violence in many different locations across various cities in Europe. Several videos have emerged on news stations, showing violent thugs physically abusing Muslim women in public spaces with audiences that only stand by as viewers. The "normalization" of violence against Muslim women with hijab has made many women afraid to practice their religious freedom. Many Muslim women have opted not to wear the hijab altogether, in case they fall victim to abuse that could come at anytime and anywhere. Other women who choose to retain their religious attire opt to remain indoors for their safety.
The hijab ban openly discriminates and prevents equal citizenship values among all European citizens. In other words, with the implementation of this policy, practicing Muslim women of faith are legally not accepted in the workplace in Europe. This in itself is an open threat to the integration and harmony of the Muslim population, who have been living in peacefully law-abiding communities for decades in Europe. Muslim communities contribute to the cultural diversity and economic development of the workforce of countries in Europe.
Universal democratic values and human dignity remain at stake, unless Europe and the ECJ decide to protect and encompass the rights of all its European citizens. The ECJ should be just by law, regardless of different religious and ethnic backgrounds.
* Istanbul-based freelance writer