Talk to us

CathNews, the most frequently visited Catholic website in Australia, is your daily news service featuring Catholics and Catholicism from home and around the world, Mass on Demand and on line, prayer, meditation, reflections, opinion, and reviews. And, what's more - it's free!

European Union flags outside the EU headquarters in Brussels (CNS photo/Yves Herman, Reuters)

A new ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union allows member states to prohibit the wearing of religious symbols or clothing by employees in public institutions. Source: Aleteia.

The case dealt with questions arising from a Muslim employee wearing an Islamic headscarf, but the decision of the EU court will blanket all religious symbols of all faiths.

According to a press release from the EU court, the case revolved around an employee of the municipality of Ans, in Belgium, who was prohibited from wearing an Islamic headscarf at her workplace. 

Since then, the municipality has amended its terms of employment and requires its employees to observe “strict neutrality”. This means that any form of proselytising or actions construed as such are banned, as well as the wearing of any “overt signs of ideological or religious affiliation”. 

The employee took the matter to court in the hopes that the EU would declare that her religious freedom had been infringed. 

The EU court, however, defended the municipality’s right to uphold a policy of strict neutrality, stating that the state’s seeking of an entirely neutral administrative environment “may be regarded as being objectively justified by a legitimate aim”.

However, the court did go on to note that a public administration’s decision to either permit or prohibit the wearing of religious symbols is “equally justified.” The report states: 

“Equally justified is another public administration’s choice in favour of a policy authorising, in a general and indiscriminate manner, the wearing of visible signs of beliefs – philosophical or religious in particular – including in contacts with users, or a prohibition on the wearing of such signs limited to situations involving such contacts.”


EU says states can ban religious symbols in public workplace (By JP Mauro, Aleteia)


Government offices in EU can ban wearing of religious symbols, court rules (The Guardian)