Erdoğan: EU court decision on headscarf started war between cross and crescent

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SAKARYA, TURKEY - MARCH 16: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses the crowd during a mass opening ceremony at the Democracy Square in Sakarya, Turkey on March 16, 2017. AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that a recent decision by the European Court of Justice against two female employees in Belgium and in France who were dismissed from their jobs for refusing to remove their headscarves has started a war between Islam and Christianity in Europe.

Speaking during a meeting in Sakarya province on Thursday, Erdoğan said: “The European Court of Justice has made a statement. Did you hear it? They said: Employers in the EU can ban headscarved workers. Where is freedom of faith? Where is freedom of religion? Who made this decision? The European Union, they started the war of the cross and crescent. There is no other explanation.”

The European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday on the cases of two female employees in Belgium and in France who were dismissed for refusing to remove their headscarves, finding no unfair treatment.

Employers may prohibit staff from wearing visible religious symbols, the court ruled.

The court, based in Luxembourg, said a workplace ban “does not constitute direct discrimination.”

The court’s ruling involved the case of a Belgian woman working as a receptionist for G4S Secure Solutions, which has a general ban on wearing visible religious or political symbols, as well as a French IT consultant who was told to remove her headscarf after a client complained.

The ECJ said in a statement: “An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination.

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