A Muslim leader has said there would be "a backlash" against a new European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling allowing employers to ban staff from wearing hijabs and other religious symbols in the workplace.
Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, who is Head Imam of Al-Mustafa Islamic Educational and Cultural Centre of Ireland, was responding to the ruling on the EU directive on equal treatment in employment and occupation.
A Muslim woman in Belgium had challenged a company policy prohibiting the wearing an Islamic headscarf or hijab on grounds of discrimination.
However, the ECJ ruled that when an internal rule prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign, it does not constitute direct discrimination.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Shaykh Umar Al-Qadri said the ruling was "a very serious threat to the principles of tolerance, equality and religious freedom in Europe".
He said the ECJ ruling gave companies the right to adopt a dress code banning the hijab and empowering anti-Muslim employers. He warned that Islamophobia was increasing, especially in Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
Shaykh Umar Al-Qadri's comments were made ahead of a rally outside the European Commission Building in Dublin tomorrow organised by Muslim Sisters of Éire and Enar Ireland.
Maurice Cohen, chair of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland, said: "Surely there is no need or requirement for blanket discrimination? The explanation that it is not discriminatory as it applies to anyone wearing a religious symbol is blatant nonsense."