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Andrea Williams: Radio 4 and religious freedom

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Andrea Williams comments on a BBC Radio 4 programme discussing last week's 'headscarf ruling' by the Court of Justice at the European Union. She says that "the integration of new faiths cannot result in the undermining the Christian foundations of our free society".

But this is exactly what is happening, and the experience of the Christian Legal Centre proves it. "We must not ignore this reality which has brought great life and flourishing to our nation," she says.

In a previous comment piece, I have discussed the legal effects of the two recent decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Communities on the right to wear an Islamic headscarf.

However, Radio 4 Sunday broadcast a lengthy discussion piece on these judgments.

The programme was particularly concerned about the rights of Muslims to wear the headscarf; and whether the effect of the ruling will have the effect of further isolating the Islamic community in Europe. The concern was that there will be further segregation because female adherents of the Islamic faith will be discouraged from seeking employment and, thus, remain trapped in their homes. 

These recent decisions have raised profound issues: and as I write this, Parliament has been the target of a Jihadist.

At the heart of these European decisions is the balance to be struck between our traditions of religious freedom and the need to assimilate newcomers; all this against the background of the militancy of certain aspects of the Islamic faith. 

As Advocate General Kokott (Germany) held in one of the cases:

"...Europe is confronted with an arguably unprecedented number of third-country migrants... ultimately, the legal issues surrounding the Islamic headscarf are symbolic of the more fundamental question of how much difference and diversity an open and pluralistic European society must tolerate within its borders, and, conversely how much assimilation it is permitted to require from certain minorities."

Advocate General Kokott has raised a profound point; the integration of new faiths cannot result in the undermining of our Christian foundations of our free societies. 

In our experience, it is the rights of Christians that are being ignored; Advocate General Kokott discussed the Ewedia case.  The Christian Legal Centre was involved with 3 of the 4 cases in the Eweida case, so we have lived experience over many years of just what we are talking about. 

In that case, British Airways permitted the turban, Sikh bangle, headscarf and Hindu Sikha to be worn; only the wearing of the Cross (the size of a sixpence) around the neck was prohibited. Our Courts upheld this bizarre policy of British Airways, until it went to Europe. 

In many schools, it is permitted to wear the headscarf, the Niqab (only the eyes showing), the Jilbab (full veil), the Sikh bangle and cornrow haircuts, but the wearing of Christian purity rings has been forbidden. 

Many in authority are quick to label our free speech cases (recent street preacher cases) 'hate speech' because Islam is criticised; and it is only Islam. Christian values are openly ridiculed and despised; the showing of a degenerate Jesus in the Jerry Springer Show on BBC would never be permitted of any other faith.

At Christian Concern we passionately believe that it is the Christian tradition of our nation that have given us our 'civic virtues' and 'public morality'; aspects of character that should be encouraged by Parliament. It is the Christian faith that is firmly enmeshed in the constitutional structure of the United Kingdom. From the Puritan revolution, the truth of Christianity has been a moderating and tolerant force represented in democratic institutions and the rule of law. Christianity is part of our value system. We must not ignore this reality which has brought great life and flourishing to our nation.

Related Links:
Andrea Williams: The CJEU ruling media storm is much ado about nothing 
Tuam babies, European workplace ruling, Jainism manuscripts (BBC Radio 4) 
An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination (Court of Justice of the European Union) 


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