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Turkey Says EU Head-Scarf Ruling To 'Strengthen Anti-Muslim Trend'

The EU's top court this week ruled that companies have the right to ban employees from wearing religious symbols, including the Islamic headscarf. (file photo)

Turkey has criticized a ruling by the European Union's top court that companies in the EU can ban employees from wearing religious or political symbols including the Islamic head scarf.

"The European Court of Justice decision on the head scarf today will only strengthen anti-Muslim and xenophobic trends," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a tweet.

"Quo vadis Europa? (Where is Europe going?)" he added.

The criticism came as Ankara is embroiled in a dispute with Germany, the Netherlands and other EU states over the blocking of Turkish officials from campaigning in countries with large Turkish communities to attract votes for a referendum next month on expanding Erdogan's powers.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said on March 14 that it does not constitute "direct discrimination" if a company imposes an internal ban on the wearing of "any political, philosophical or religious sign."

The ruling by the Luxembourg-based court was the result of two cases from France and Belgium. The first case was filed by a receptionist who was fired in 2006 for wearing a head scarf to work at G4S, a security firm in Belgium.

The ECJ said G4S's actions were based on treating all employees the same, meaning that no person was singled out by the ban.

The ECJ ruled that a French company which fired a software engineer for refusing to remove her head scarf could have broken EU laws if it did so because a particular client objected.

Turkey last month said it was lifting a ban on female officers wearing the Islamic head scarf in the country's officially secular armed forces.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP