EIO MEDIA BRIEFING
EU must do more to uphold Muslims’ rights
(Brussels, 24 April 2012) The European Union and its member states must do more to combat discrimination against Muslims, especially in education and employment, a new report by Amnesty International, Choice and prejudice: Discrimination against Muslims in Europe, asserts today. The report focuses on Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Spain and Switzerland and documents examples of discrimination on grounds of religion or belief and its impact on Muslims’ lives.
“Muslim women are being denied jobs and girls prevented from attending regular classes just because they wear traditional forms of dress, such as the headscarf,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination.
The report highlights the fact that laws banning discrimination in employment have not been appropriately implemented in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Employers have been allowed to discriminate on the grounds that religious or cultural symbols will jar with clients or colleagues or that a clash exists with a company’s corporate image or ‘neutrality’. This directly conflicts with EU anti-discrimination laws which allow people to be treated differently at work only if the nature of the job specifically requires it. Amnesty International has called on the EU to do more to ensure anti-discrimination laws are respected.
Over the past decade, pupils have been forbidden to wear the headscarf or other religious and traditional dress at school in many countries including Spain, France, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
“Wearing religious and cultural symbols and dress is part of the rights to freedom of expression, religion and belief. These must be enjoyed equally by followers of all faiths,” said Perolini. “Any restriction on the wearing of religious and cultural symbols and dress in schools must be based on assessment of the needs in each individual case. General bans risk compromising Muslim girls’ access to education and violating their rights to freedom of expression and manifesting their beliefs.”
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