Religious symbols, Germany and courts

It is a crux with those Germans and religious symbols. Should they be worn discreet, should the be worn open and if so, what size? A case about two women wearing an Islamic headscarf (again the Islamic headscarf and Germany) was referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) which in parts bent over backwards and tilted this way and that way. Visibly uncomfortable and it is embarrassing to read their reasoning. Just read the ‘Legal Analysis’ of the court. The UK Human Rights blog has an article about it.

Court of Justice of the EU allows prohibition of religious symbols in the workplace

“The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) sparked controversy with its recent judgment passed down in IX v Wabe eV and MH Müller Handels GmbH v MJ. This case required the CJEU to again consider the right to freedom of religion. It ruled that employers can ban workers from observing religious symbols, including headscarves, to maintain a neutral image in front of its customers.

Case Background

This ruling was brought by two Muslim women in Germany who were suspended from their jobs because of wearing a headscarf. IX and MJ, were employed in companies governed by German law as a special needs caregiver and a sales assistant respectively. They both wore the Islamic headscarf at their workplaces. The employers held the view that wearing a headscarf for religious purposes did not correspond to the policy of political, philosophical, and religious neutrality pursued with regard to parents, children, and third parties, and asked the women to remove their headscarf and suspended them from their duties on their refusal to do so. MJ’s employer, MH Müller Handels GmbH, particularly instructed her to “attend her workplace without conspicuous, large-sized signs of any political, philosophical or religious beliefs.”

IX and MJ brought actions before the Arbeitsgericht Hamburg (Hamburg Labour Court, Germany) and the Bundesarbeitsgericht (Federal Labour Court, Germany), respectively. The courts referred the questions to the CJEU concerning the interpretation of Directive 2000/78. This directive establishes a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation.”

Full post here.

As the article states, Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) protects the right to manifest one’s religion and beliefs. Article 9 is often relied upon in conjunction with Article 14 of the ECHR, which prohibits discrimination based on, among other things, religion and opinions.

So far so good. But, you know, some proportionality and neutrality should be observed. Right?

However, this must be ‘proportionately’ balanced since the state has a positive obligation under Article 9(2). 

We all know, size matters and that seems to be the/one problem.

Third, the Court considered whether all visible forms of expression of political, philosophical, or religious beliefs should be prohibited or only conspicuous, large-sized signs. It noted that the latter, a limited prohibition on large signs, will have a greater effect on people with beliefs which require the wearing of a large-sized sign, such as a headscarf. As a result, some workers could be potentially treated less favourably which would amount to direct discrimination. Therefore, the policy can only be effective when absolutely no visible manifestation of religion or belief is allowed.

This reasoning in another case stuck out:

The Court held that, while this aim was undoubtedly legitimate, the UK courts accorded it too much weight. Ms Eweida’s cross was discreet and could not have detracted from her professional appearance. 

Here is another article going into some details and the author sees some hope. Meanwhile back in 2018 there was an open call to wear the kippa. Here the midget, more from the midget, the whole of Berlin was apparently (or not) wearing it.

The Shopping Experience Managers from Luxembourg

Dear Germans,

it is a testament to your rectitude, uprightness and being considerate how you care about an unspoilt shopping experience in drugstores. Free from unsightly head scarves. You appreciate the attention purveyed by the Shopping Experience Managers from Luxembourg.

We switch to racist Germany and its welcoming culture towards refugees. Be prepared!

This is from a German newspaper of today.

There is a 26-year-old Pakistani woman who entered Germany in 2017. She was working as an educator in PAK. “Maybe I will train as a nanny or as a socio-educational assistant” in Germany. Germany is in dire need of these professionals, so you would expect they would do everything that she can fulfill her dream.

She had already passed the A1 German language course (which is not easy) at the Goethe Institute in PAK so the B1 in Germany felt pretty easy. She could not attend school in Germany because “I still had no recognition and therefore no right to do the language course”.

You already have a gut feeling where that is heading to, do you? I mean, this is racist Germany and they know how and where to place potholes.

After she was recognized as a refugee she applied for the B2 language test. She studied properly because the test is difficult. She had a good feeling. There, however, a nasty surprise awaited her: in the “listening comprehension” part, Bavarian dialect was spoken.

“I had never heard anything like this before and at first I didn’t know whether it was even German,” she says. Like her, other participants who felt the same about the part of the exam in Bavarian were as well surprised “, so the woman. “The teacher said we were the worst course she ever had.” She failed the test as did 10 out of 15. She has meanwhile succeeded.

Just imagine you are learning English and a test on which your future depends is held in Texan dialect or Scottish.

Despite multiple inquiries, telc GmbH in Frankfurt (apparently the company that runs these courses – they charge what price to the government???) was unable to give a reason as to why the Bavarian dialect was used in German language tests. On the websites of various language schools, however, it can be read that dialects are part of German cultural assets, which should be taught just like the German language itself. “You can prepare for this, for example, by watching a Bavarian television program or listening to a Bavarian radio program.” Ameeta would surely have done that too – if she had known what to expect.

And that is how you make money as telc GmbH can tell you. The question is, how many of those who failed had to give up and were sent shipping? Expecting from a refugee to be able to understand a dialect which even people in Northern Germany have difficulties understanding is, firstly, bonkers and, secondly, a sneaky way of having refugees fail. And ultimately getting rid of them.