PARIS // A Paris appeal court yesterday upheld the right of a nursery to fire a female employee who insisted on wearing an Islamic headscarf at work.
The ruling, which came as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) began deliberations on an unrelated challenge to France’s so-called burqa ban, is the latest round of a long-running legal battle which has pitted France’s secular authorities against sections of the country’s large Muslim minority.
In its ruling, the appeal court overturned a controversial March 2013 verdict that a kindergarten in the Paris suburbs had been guilty of religious discrimination when it dismissed Fatima Afif in 2008.
Ms Afif was sacked after telling her employer that, on her return to work following a five-year maternity break, she wished to wear a headscarf at work.
Yesterday’s verdict was denounced by Muslim organisations who see the emphasis put on secular principles as a way of singling out their community and it is unlikely to be the end of the case.
In the case currently before the ECHR, a British legal team is seeking to persuade the rights court to categorise the French law banning full-face veils as essentially discriminatory. A ruling is expected early next year.
Under the French law, approved in 2010 and implemented the following year, women wearing full-face veils can be fined up to 150 euros (US$203).
* Agence France-Presse