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Ebrahimian v. France, No. 64846/11, ECtHR (Fifth Section), 26 November 2015

Type Judgment
Case number 64846/11


The failure to renew the employment contract, as a disciplinary measure for the public employee's repeated refusal to remove the Islamic headscarf in the workplace, does not breach art. 9 of the ECHR.

Normative references

Art. 9 ECHR


1. The State plays an essential role as a neutral and impartial organiser of the exercise of various religions, cults and beliefs, religious peace and tolerance in a democratic society. Where questions concerning the relationship between State and religions are at stake, on which opinion in a democratic society may reasonably differ widely, the role of the national decision-making body is particularly important and keep a wide margin of appreciation.

2. The aim of protecting the rights and freedoms of others, public order and public safety can legitimately justify the limitation of the freedom of manifestation of religion, protected by art. 9 of the ECHR, especially when it comes to public services; the neutrality of public services being necessary to ensure the freedoms of others, and uphold the principle of secularity of the State. Particularly,
the status of public employee, representative of the State and engaged in public services imposes on him religious neutrality  when carrying out his duties, in order to guarantee equality of treatment towards the users of the public service. Therefore, the interference with the freedom freedom of manifestation of religion of the public employee pursue a legittimate aim and is necessary in a democratic society. Consequently, it does not breach the art. 9 ECHR.