European Court Gives Mixed Rulings on Religious Freedom



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ABSTRACTZENIT - European Court Gives Mixed Rulings on Religious Freedom Indexed Archive | Advanced Search | The World Seen From Rome Zenit? All about Zenit Testimonies Services Conditions of use How is Zenit financed Prizes and Recognitions Faqs Identity and Organization Technical Problems Receive zenit Subscribe by Email Unsubscribe Gift-Subscriptions Zenit in RSS Zenit on your Web Conditions of use Problems receiving Zenit Support zenit Send a donation How is Zenit financed Legal Status Participate Help Zenit Spread Zenit Give the gift of Zenit Recommend Zenit Contact us FAQ Identity and Organization Technical Problems Advertising Contact us English > See information ZE13011707 - 2013-01-17 Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-36362?l=english European Court Gives Mixed Rulings on Religious Freedom Catholic Voices Representative Comments on Ruling in Discrimination Case Ann Schneible LONDON, January 17, 2013 ( Zenit.org ). On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that British Airways violated the religious rights of one of its employees when they told her she could not wear a cross to work. In 2006, Nadia Eweida, a Coptic Christian, was told that she was not permitted to wear a cross to work as it violated the British Airways uniform requirements. The airline changed its policy in 2007 to allow its employees to wear symbols of faith. Nonetheless, the court ruled that Eweida's religious rights had been violated. ZENIT spoke with Peter Smith, a coordinator with Catholic Voices in the UK, about the ruling, and what it means for the state of religious freedom in the country. "On the one hand, you've got this right to religious freedom," Smith explained, "and on the other hand you've got this desire for an employer to maintain professionalism. Was it proportionate, then, to ban crosses in order to make their staff look professional? And the answer is no, it wasn't. That's why she won." Smith continued: "A lot of accommodation is made for other symbols of faith, and it's amazing how employers think that wearing a cross is not something that they should respect." "It's great to see the court has recognized that it is a protected right for the person to wear a cross, and to manifest their belief publicly through the symbols that they wear – for example, in the same way that a hijab or a turban is a sign of a Muslim or a Sikh." The court, however, did not rule in favor of three other religious discrimination cases which were being heard alongside Eweida's case. Shirley Chaplin, a nurse, was transferred to a desk job when she refused to remove a cross necklace, one which she had worn to work for 30 years. The ECHR ruled in favor of the hospital, saying that it had the right to impose such a requirement in order to protect the health and safety of nurses and patients. "They were balancing the right .......