Amsterdam: Why headscarves and not crosses [2]

Amsterdam: Why headscarves and not crosses [2]

Last week I posted a story about a Christian tram driver in Amsterdam who sued his employers, GVB, in order to be able to wear a cross on a chain.  The driver, Ezzat Aziz, said that just as Muslim employees are allowed to wear a headscarf as part of their uniform (with the company's logo), he should be allowed to wear his cross.  A judge rejected the driver's claim, saying that the company is allowed to ban all necklaces.

Via NRP, Dutch journalist Carel Brendel writes about an interview the judge, Eric Marres, gave to Amsterdam broadcaster AT5.

"Two aspects play a role.  First, the external expression of professionalism, but particularly also the safety of the people plays a role.  It's very possible that this employee of GVB will be confronted with aggressiveness from travelers and such a chain makes you vulnerable then."

Marres continues: "For a Muslim woman there's a religious obligation to cover her hair. In my opinion there's no religious obligation for Christians to wear the sign of the cross on your clothing."

Brendel thinks the judge should not be using Sharia law as a standard, but it seems to me that there's a more problematic point in what the judge is saying.   The judge is saying that freedom of religion is actually based on religious obligations.  You can sue for freedom of religion only if your religion obligates you to do something.  But when comparing Christian and Muslim obligations, Islam will always triumph.  That's because Islam, similarly to Judaism, is based on obligations rather than faith.  These religious obligations - what you may or may not do - affect every moment of your life.  There are no comparable Christian obligations.

This is not only a question of whether Dutch law should take every person's religious obligations into account, but also whether it's the only thing it should take into account. 

No comments: