Erdoğan: EU court decision on headscarf started war between cross and crescent

Turkey's autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that a recent decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against two female employees in Belgium and in France who were dismissed from their jobs for refusing to remove their headscarves has started a war between Islam and Christianity in Europe.

Speaking during a meeting in Sakarya province on Thursday, Erdoğan said: “The European Court of Justice has made a statement. Did you hear it? They said: Employers in the EU can ban headscarved workers. Where is freedom of faith? Where is freedom of religion? Who made this decision? The European Union, they started the war of the cross and crescent. There is no other explanation.”

The ECJ ruled on Tuesday on the cases of two female employees in Belgium and in France who were dismissed for refusing to remove their headscarves, finding no unfair treatment. Employers may prohibit staff from wearing visible religious symbols, the court ruled. The court, based in Luxembourg, said a workplace ban “does not constitute direct discrimination.”

The court’s ruling involved the case of a Belgian woman working as a receptionist for G4S Secure Solutions, which has a general ban on wearing visible religious or political symbols, as well as a French IT consultant who was told to remove her headscarf after a client complained.

The ECJ said in a statement: “An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination.


Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu commented on the results of the Dutch elections, saying the rise of fascism in Europe is dragging the continent into “holy wars” as there is no difference between the mentality of fascist parties and social democrats in the Netherlands.

Speaking to the state-run Anadolu news agency in Antalya on Thursday, Çavuşoğlu underlined that the rise of a far-right ideology in Europe is undermining the union.

“When you look at [the election results in the Netherlands] you see there is no difference between the social democrats and the fascist [Geert] Wilders. All have the same mentality. Where will you go? Where are you taking Europe? You have begun to undermine Europe. You are dragging Europe into the abyss. Holy wars will soon begin [in Europe]. This course of events shows that,” he said.

With 54 percent of the vote counted, the projected results indicated Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Party for Freedom and Democracy scored a commanding victory, earning 33 out of the Dutch parliament’s 150 seats against the right-wing populist Wilders.

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