Turkey's Erdogan slams ECJ ruling on headscarf ban at work

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By Euronews  with AFP
Turkish President Erdogan has previously accused the EU of "islamophobia".
Turkish President Erdogan has previously accused the EU of "islamophobia".   -  Copyright  Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool 2020

Turkey has criticised a European court ruling that allowed employers to ban workers from wearing religious veils.

The decision to allow businesses to prohibit the Islamic headscarf in the workplace violates freedom of religion, says Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Last week, the European Court of Justice ruled that banning any visible sign of a citizen's political, philosophical, or religious beliefs could be allowed.

The employer would need to justify the veil did not "project an image of neutrality to customers or to avoid social conflicts," the court said.

Critics of the ruling said the verdict may lead to many Muslim women being excluded from public-facing roles in the workplace.

"The European Court of Justice should change its name," Erdogan told a press conference in Istanbul on Monday.

"This issue has nothing remotely to do with a court of justice. There cannot be a court of justice that does not know what freedom of religion is," he added.

The Turkish head of state has regularly accused the European Union and other western countries of "Islamophobia".

Turkey itself had prohibited the Islamic veil from state institutions for decades until Erdogan's government lifted the ban in 2013.

On Sunday, Turkey's Foreign Ministry also condemned the European court's decision, describing it as "dangerous" and likely to "fuel hatred of Islam".