Understandably there has been panic and upset around the new ruling from the ECJ which places power in the hands of employers with regards to making decisions about 'visibility' of one's religion. The ruling claims to be pushing for 'neutrality' in customer facing roles, so, for example, a coffee shop worker. We ask, does it really matter or affect your coffee drinking experience? The rule states the following:
"An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination."
Steve Peers breaks this down below
So if we look at the ruling this is wider than just hijab or niqab, it spans to wearing religious symbols so a crucifix or even a turban which Sikh men wear. The ban is not exclusive to hijab many people argue but as Nafisa mentioned in her LBC interview it affects Muslim women the most due to the visibility of the hijab and niqab. The ruling originates from a case which saw two women in Europe lose their jobs due to wearing hijab. There are also a few things that need to be clarified around the law from which businesses are exactly 'customer facing' and what 'neutral' dress means. Amaliah have an idea what dressing neutral means and you all seem to agree too!
Nafisa Bakkar Co-founder of Amaliah appeared on LBC this lunch time and was asked about the ruling and explained it fuels the whole narrative of 'Us versus them.' as well as asking "Who defines neutral?". Shelia Fogerty also asked her if public spaces should be neutral to which Nafisa asked
"Who defines neutral? and by definition, we all come with something."
Fundamentally the conversation around Muslim women's identity continues and can isolate those who practice and once again the world are dictating what a Muslim woman can and cannot wear. Muslim women seem to be in the firing line for the last few years and Amaliah worry about what that is doing to our confidence and self-esteem of some of us less confident in our identity. It's about time the world gave Muslim women a break beyond fashion and accepted us wholly, with or without hijab. Amaliah exist to empower Muslim women by reclaiming our narrative, a narrative for us.