Turkish justice minister slams EU’s ruling on headscarves

Turkish justice minister slams EU’s ruling on headscarves

Turkish justice minister slams EU’s ruling on headscarves Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has slammed a ruling by the European Union’s highest court that allows companies to ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols.

“The decision taken by the European Court of Justice is a destruction of international regulations on human rights, freedom of work, freedom of religion and conscience, as well as a breach of EU values,” Bozdağ told reporters in the Central Anatolian province of Yozgat on March 15. 

“To force people to make a choice between their faith and work do not befit the dignity of the democratic state of law. It is a great primitiveness and a great, outdated practice. It carries no other meaning but a resurrection of a medieval mentality in the 21st century at the hand of courts,” he said.

His comments came after the EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, made a decision on March 14 which allows companies to ban their employees from wearing the Islamic headscarf, “but only as part of prohibitions including other religious and political symbols.”

Stating that discrimination, racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia are on the rise in European countries,

Bozdağ said European governments had started to use those discourses rather than fighting against them. 

“To a certain extent, it is explicable that people have such approaches,” he said. “However, it is unacceptable for courts such as the European Court of Justice or Belgian court, whose main role is to sustain human rights, law, and justice in spite of all those negativities, to uphold such extremism and destroy the law and justice by making more extreme decisions than them.” 

He also said such decisions did not have the ability to destroy the freedom of religion and conscience. 

“This decision has shown that the democracy, human rights and supremacy of law in Europe only goes so far as to the consent of radicals, the enemies of Islam and racists who do not respect others’ freedom of belief,” he added. 

Venice Commission on side of ‘no’ vote

Bozdağ also reiterated his earlier criticism about the Venice Commission’s recent opinion on the constitutional amendment that will usher in a presidency in Turkey, saying the commission had taken its side with the “no” camp. 

“With the latest report they have issued during the constitutional referendum process, the Venice Commission has been very clear that they are on the side of the ‘no’ vote. The Venice Commission’s report is not fair and objective, it is subjective and political,” he said. 

He said the report “consists of the opinions of the [main opposition Republican People’s Party] CHP and the [Peoples’ Democratic Party] HDP and of what they said during the negotiations in the Constitutional Commission, parliamentary discussions and internet sites.”