Last Thursday, the highest ruling court of the EU upheld a 2017 ruling that private employers within the EU can ban employees from wearing religious symbols, including hijabs, in the workplace. In a statement, the court justified the ruling based on “employer’s desire to pursue a policy of political, philosophical and religious neutrality with regard to its customers or users, in order to take account of their legitimate wishes.” While such judgments are no longer surprising, they do however shed light on how Islamophobia is becoming less insidious, albeit subtle in self-proclaimed freedom loving countries.
Earlier this year, France raised the possibility of passing a law banning young women who are less than 18 years of age to wear the hijab in public. Arguably, a country is free to implement laws that it deems appropriate for the advancement of its citizens. However, when such laws stand in striking paradox to what the country’s own motto is, one cannot help but question the real motive behind such laws disguised as secularism. For all the freedom that France and several countries in the EU claim to defend, they do not hesitate to curb that of a huge number of their own citizens.
Muslim women have long debunked the myth that the hijab is imposed and that they are subjugated by the stifling patriarchal religion that Islam is depicted as. Muslim women have shouted from the rooftops about the rights that Islam has given to women: that to education, to choosing their partners to marry, to inheritance, to earning their own money, to keeping their names after marriage, among so many more.
And yet… pseudo-defenders of freedom do not hesitate to remain deaf to the freedom of others to impose their own version, no matter how constraining it is. The EU’s ruling is nothing but subtle imperialism, one that will continue spreading its tentacles. It is our duty to remain steadfast in our beliefs and defend our rights to remain true to them.