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Court sides with 'religious neutrality'

Oct. 28, 2011 at 7:32 PM

VERSAILLES, France, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- A French court has ruled that a private nursery had the right to fire an employee for wearing an Islamic headscarf.

The ruling in a Versailles appeal court backed a previous ruling that the Baby Loup nursery was within its rights to fire Fatima Afif in 2008 for refusing to remove her headscarf while working, Radio France Internationale reported Thursday.

"It's a victory for us, it's of course a victory for the nursery and beyond that it's a victory for France and for secularism," declared Baby Loup's lawyer Richard Malka.

The case sets a legal precedent because it is the first time a private educational establishment invoked the right to enforce "religious neutrality," a principle behind the 2004 French law banning "ostentatious signs of religion" in state schools.

Malka claimed "religious neutrality within a company guarantees being able to live alongside one another. It guarantees that there isn't religious tension, it guarantees equality between employees and it protects minorities."

Afif, who was claiming $113,240 in compensation for unfair dismissal, has the right to appeal.

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