Almost a week after Nike introduced the Nike Pro Hijab for Muslim athletes, signaling a new level of mainstream inclusiveness for people of all backgrounds, the European Court of Justice has passed a bill that allows companies to ban their employees from wearing “visible religious symbols.”
The Guardian reports that the court claims this is not a form of “direct discrimination” on the grounds that it legitimizes an internal rule in place to protect a company’s “neutral image.” This is a troubling assertion, though, in that it specifies that anyone wearing religious garb can not be seen as being “neutral.” And since the opposite of neutrality might be seen as combativeness, what, then, does that say about people who dress according to their cultural or religious norms?
Though it’s not explicitly stated, the ruling clearly targets individuals who identify as Muslim—specifically women who wear hijabs. Or, as student and writer Warda El-Kaddouri said in an interview: “A ban on religious and political symbols feels to me as a disguised ban on the hijab. I cannot think of another symbol that will affect hundreds of thousands of people in Europe.”
The cases in question were brought on by Samira Achbita of Belgium and Asma Bougnaoui of France, both of whom were fired from their jobs in 2006 and 2009 for refusing to compromise their faith by removing their headscarves.
You can read every detail of the official ruling in this document. If you are interested in gaining a better perspective of what it means to be a triple threat to the patriarchy—black, queer, and Muslim—please proceed here.