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French Court Upholds Firing of Muslim Woman Over Headscarf

A Paris appeals court upholds right of kindergarten to fire Muslim who insisted on wearing hijab headscarf.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 11/27/2013, 2:32 PM

Illustration: Muslim women wearing hijabs
Illustration: Muslim women wearing hijabs
Israel news photo: Flash 90

On Wednesday an appeals court in Paris upheld the right of a kindergarten to fire a Muslim female employee in 2008 for refusing to remove her hijab (Islamic headscarf) at work in compliance with the facility's secular education.

The ruling overturns a previous decision in March which found the "Baby-Wolf" nursery guilty of discrimination for dismissing Fatima Afif. That decision stated that while French schools enforce strict secularism in banning overt religious symbols, including Jewish kippot, such protocol did not apply to the private kindergarten.

Afif was laid off when she insisted on wearing a hijab at all times after returning to work from 5 years of maternity leave, reports AFP. The head of the nursery refused her demands, noting the rules of school mandate that employees remain "neutral in terms of philosophy, politics and faith."

Lawyers say Afif is likely to launch another appeal, as she has in the past declared she would take her case as far as the European Court of Human Rights.

The ruling on Wednesday comes as the European Court of Human Rights is set to consider challenges to France's 2011 "burka ban" on Islamic full face veils in public.

The violent reaction to that law has been ongoing. In July, after a Muslim woman was given a ticket for wearing the full face veil in public, riots erupted throughout France as protesters hurled objects and firebombs, leaving at least 20 cars torched in one night.