Religious freedom under attack in Europe, PACE Turkish Delegation head says

The head of the Turkish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Talip Küçükcan indicated that the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to prohibit the visible display or wearing of religious clothing and symbols in the workplace would lead to violations of the freedom of religion, adding that, “under these circumstances, religious freedom is under threat in Europe.”
Emphasizing the principles of the U.N Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), Küçükcan stated that the decision to prohibit religious clothing and symbols in the workplace contradicts core universal values such as freedom, equality and justice.
Emphasizing that discrimination based on people’s religious preferences is a serious violation of civil liberties, deputy Küçükcan said, “Equality, justice and freedom are privileges of modern democracies… However, rising xenophobia in Europe now undermines the principles of the UDHR and the ECHR. This decision could spark an anti-religion movement which would have a profound influence on religions communities, especially Muslims.”
Asserting that more than 20 million Muslims currently live in Europe, Küçükcan highlighted that Muslims are increasingly represented in all sectors of society including education, the media, politics, and business and at the same time, they preserve their beliefs and identities under Western culture.
He noted that, “The most distinctive community in terms of lifestyle, physical appearance and religious attire is the Islamic community in the European public space. The headscarf is a visible religious symbol. The prohibition of such religious symbols damages pluralism as well as equality.”
Furthermore, the deputy pointed out that the PACE Turkish delegation initially expressed its thoughts on the issue during the PACE Migration and Refugees Commission meeting in Baku, adding that Turkey will bring the issue to the agenda again with the General Secretariat of the Council of Europe (CoE) and the PACE Presidency.

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