Czech court throws out hijab discrimination lawsuit

Czech court throws out hijab discrimination lawsuit
A court in Prague on Friday dismissed a discrimination lawsuit filed by a Somalian refugee, where the plaintiff claimed she had been barred from wearing her headscarf in a nursing school.

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In her complaint, Ayan Jamaal Ahmed Nuur, who was granted asylum in the Czech Republic in 2011, claimed that on her first day at the Secondary Health School the headmaster told her to remove her hijab. Instead, Nuur left the school and filed her case, demanding an apology and compensation.

"The suit which the plaintiff lodged seeking an apology and 60,000 crowns ($2,350) in compensation was rejected," said Justice Daniela Cejkova, as quoted by AFP.

The legal case is said to be the first of its kind in the EU.

Muslim veils and headscarves are not forbidden in the Czech Republic, unlike in some other parts of Europe, but the court was convinced by the school’s argument that Nuur’s hijab contravened health and safety policy. The school also argued that Nuur had never been properly enrolled in the first place.

A group of female students attended part of the trial in support of the school, while a group of Muslim citizens also showed up supporting Nuur, Czech news agency CTK reported. When the verdict was read out to members of the public, which included a number of anti-Muslim activists, they applauded and began singing the Czech national anthem.

The number of Muslims living in the Czech Republic is relatively small, said to be between 10,000 and 20,000 people. However, as in much of Europe, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments have been on the rise as a result of the migrant and refugee crisis, which has seen unprecedented numbers of asylum seekers from war-torn and impoverished countries flee to the continent in search of a better life.

The Czech government has been particularly opposed to the EU’s resettlement quotas, set by Germany, and in 2015 President Milos Zeman said that his country would be willing to take in only Christians, rather than the Muslims who make up the bulk of the recent influx. However, a program to take in 153 Iraqi Christian refugees was halted in 2016 after 25 of them tried to make it to Germany.

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