EU court’s religious symbols ban is ‘slap in the face to people of faith’ says Redbridge Sikh leader

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 March 2017

The EU's highest court has issued a ruling which allows employers to ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols such as a niqab, pictured, or a cross or kippah. Picture:PA/Peter Byrne

The EU's highest court has issued a ruling which allows employers to ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols such as a niqab, pictured, or a cross or kippah. Picture:PA/Peter Byrne

PA Archive/Press Association Images

A Redbridge faith advisor has branded an EU court ruling allowing companies to ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols “a slap in the face to people of faith”.

Harmander Singh, principle adviser at Sikhs In England, blasted the judgement by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) calling the ruling “dangerous” and potentially divisory.

In the first decision on women wearing Islamic headscarves at work, the ECJ, the highest court in the EU, ruled the garments could be banned, but only as part of a general policy barring all religious and political symbols – including Christian crosses and Jewish kippahs.

“It sets a very dangerous precedent towards dividing society forever unless the ruling is reversed.

“One hopes that the ruling was not intended to be anti-faith but it is difficult to imagine how the outcome can be anything but,” said Mr Singh.

He said he thought the ruling could create a division between businesses that were in favour of religious symbols, and those opposed.

Mr Singh commented that it will be a sad day when “market values are seen as more important that moral values” and warned that this judgement was not a thin end of a wedge but a giant leap.

“Integration is a laudable aim but history has shown that forced assimilation leads to far more serious consequences,” he added.

“Luckily, in Britain, we try to respect all faiths equally, but this ruling extends what France has been practicing for years, that is disrespecting all faiths equally.”

The Redbridge Equalities and Community Council (RECC) believes that the legislation, which was meant to apply “across the board to all faiths” was not meant to be discriminatory. David Landau, speaking on their behalf said: “It might not have the intention of discrimination but how it is applied opens the door to discrimination.

“Some groups of people may feel targeted especially those who wear items as an act of religious observance.”

Related articles


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Ilford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Ilford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Ilford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Ilford News Stories


With well maintained beards and a penchant for cocktails in jars East London is known for setting trends, but the recent rise in acid attacks is not one to be proud of.

A care home in Wanstead is to close temporarily to allow the old building to be entirely redeveloped to provide a complete care experience for Redbridge’s elderly residents.


With the Elizabeth line and high street regeneration it is an exciting time for those living and working in Ilford.


Top students at Redbridge College enjoyed a night of red carpet treatment as their academic achievements were highlighted at their annual student awards evening.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists


Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Ilford Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now