Two weeks ago, the UN Human Rights Committee (which oversees compliance with the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) declared that Franceâ€™s ban on full-face veils violates freedom of religion. According to the 2010 French law, â€œNo one may, in a public space, wear any article of clothing intended to conceal the face.â€ (Similar laws have been passed elsewhere in Europe, most recently in Denmark.) Yet, the Committee wrote that it was â€œnot persuaded by Franceâ€™s claim that a ban on face covering was necessary and proportionate from a security standpoint or for attaining the goal of â€˜living togetherâ€™ in society.â€
In March 2017, the SHARIAsourceBlog highlighted a decision by the European Court of Justiceâ€”the EUâ€™s top courtâ€”that ruled that employers were allowed to have a general ban on displaying any political and religious symbols in the workplace, including Islamic headscarves. Guest contributor Sara Silvestri wrote that the Courtâ€™s ruling was â€œfrustrating and contradictory, particularly as the EU was a pioneer in establishing the principles of equality and non-discrimination on religious grounds in a personâ€™s occupation,â€ and that it â€œprovided ammunition and political legitimacyâ€ to anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
In addition, in 2016, the SHARIAsourceBlog published â€œA Brief History of the French Burkini Ban,â€ in which Europe/Southeast Asia Editor Rachel Mazzarella examined the legal justifications given by the government for the banâ€”such as supporting women’s rights and maintaining public safetyâ€”and the response of international human rights groups who argued that the policy, in addition to violating freedom of religion, could actually be counterproductive.