I find the recent judgement by the European courts to allow companies to ban wearing of all religious symbols deeply regrettable.
As a practising doctor I take great pride and honour in having studied and worked in the NHS observing the hijab. I have been uninhibited in serving my country without any comprise of my faith. I have never faced any opposition in observing my hijab and it has never affected the sensitive patient-doctor relationship. My patients have always seen my hijab as an intriguing part of personal life and by no means a hindrance to my practice and they have been unanimously kind and have expressed appreciation for the treatment I have had the fortune to give them.
In fact, whilst my faith motivates me to observe the hijab, it is this very same faith that drives me work on days when junior doctors are striking for example. It is Islam alone that does not let me compromise patient safety for any personal gain.
Legal institutions that serve to uphold basic human rights have no place invading the religious freedom that is every human’s fundamental right. To legalise such discrimination, where there is no compromise in the work of an employee, is most unjust. Such laws will likely lead to ongoing infringements and divisions in society. Employees should be judged by their merit and abilities, not their religious beliefs.
A big thank you and well done to the Prime Minister Theresa May for speaking up against the European court ruling on religious attire during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, saying: “Individual institutions can make their own policies but it is not for government to tell women what they can or cannot wear and we want to continue that strong tradition of freedom of expression.”
Many individual institutions have successfully employed hijab-wearing Muslim women and their headscarf has never been a hindrance to their work. By allowing Muslim women to incorporate the headscarf in their dress code, employers have only boosted the morale, motivation, commitment and overall performance of their female Muslim staff.
If Muslim women are suddenly forced to remove their headscarves in a workplace where it has never posed a problem before, many will simply look for employment where this isn’t an issue, and if the ban extends to other religious dress and symbols such as Christian’s crosses, Jewish skullcaps, and Sikh turbans, this would cause mayhem and disruption for the businesses wishing to impose such policies. It doesn’t make sense for any levelheaded employer to impose this kind of ban.