Hijab ban in court angers Bosnian Muslims

(MENAFN- The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) Bosnia's High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council which oversees the judiciary on Wednesday confirmedits previous decision to prohibit employees in judicial institutions from wearing religious symbols including the hijab - the headscarf used by Muslim women.

The HJPC announced that it will publish a memorandum on its website to fully explain the consequences of its decision media reported.

The President of the HJPC Milan Telgetija during the session said the council was open to discussing the ban with the representatives of religious communities noting that the HJPC's decision had been widely misinterpreted in the public.

Telgetija also noted that public opinion only focused on the ban on hijabs while the decision of the HJPC refers to all religious symbols.

The ban on religious symbols inside judicial institutions has drawn criticism especially from the Islamic community.

Mensur Karadza secretary of the Rijaset of the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina told BIRN on Wednesday that the ruling discriminated against freedom of belief.

"The Islamic Community has strongly criticised this decision which opposes a right - the right to religious of freedom and belief - clearly protected in all major human rights declarations and in the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina" Karadza told BIRN.

"The law states some conditions restricting this right but all these conditions - which concern reasons of public security or public health - are absolutely not present in the proposal of the HJPC" he said.

At the end of January the HJPC said judicial institutions should forbid the wearing of any religious symbol by their employees in compliance with the Law on Courts in the two entities of the Country and the code of judicial ethics which prohibit the expression of any political religious or ethnic affiliation by workers of these structures.

The decision of HJPC was immediately criticised by the Bosniak and Muslim communities who denounced this measure as an attack on the identity of Muslim women.

In the past weeks rallies in support of the right to wear hijab were organised in several towns and cities including Bihac Tuzla Zenica and the capital Sarajevo under the organisation of the Coordination Council of Bosniak NGOs BNVO.

Esed Ivojevic secretary of BNVO said that even if the measure applied to all religious symbols it still discriminated against Muslim women.

"For Muslim women the hijab is not a religious symbol rather it is part of their very identity a religious obligation" Ivojevic told BIRN.

"We support the independence of Bosnian judiciary" Ivojevic said "but at the same time we ask that a democratic country as Bosnia and Herzegovina respects the rights of its citizens without discriminating them on the basis of their faith or their appearance" he concluded.

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