“If headscarves are banned for employees who work at the desk at city services in order to guarantee neutrality of services, then we demand that no Christmas trees be set up in city buildings and that no Easter eggs be given out.” Antwerp trade union representative Badia Miri said this on Wednesday in the Gazet van Antwerpen.
Miri is one of the seven Muslim women who were forced to remove their headscarves if they wanted to continue working at the desk. Three of the seven staff members of the city of Antwerp who wore headscarves agreed to stop wearing one. Different positions—not involving contact with the public—were found for the others. No one was dismissed. There is still opposition to the dress code however, which came into effect in March. The seven Muslim women are now urging that “neutrality of service provision be actually enforced.”
“The Antwerp city government says that neutrality is endangered if staff wear a cross or headscarf,” says Miri. “But in our experience action has only been taken against the Muslim women. If the city government is really concerned about neutrality, then Christmas trees and Easter eggs should no longer be allowed at work. We are asking that a contact point be set up to report all violations of the dress code.”