The BBC reports that the Mayor of the French town Gennevilliers has reinstated four Muslim employees after controversy arose from their being fired for observing fasting during the month of Ramadhan. Mayor Bourgoin argued that the Muslim employees’ insistence on fasting amounted to a ‘breach of contract’ with those contesting his decision arguing that his actions were discriminatory and a restriction of the right to freedom of religion.
From the BBC:
“The mayor of the French town who had suspended four instructors at a children's summer camp for observing the Ramadan fast has said he will reinstate them to avoid controversy.
“The four are considering taking the matter to court.
“The mayor of Gennevilliers outside Paris said their refusal to eat or drink amounted to a breach of contract.
“The four instructors, who were employed for the month of July, had to leave the summer camp in the south-west of France the day after a visit by an inspector who noticed they were not eating - although they remained on full pay till the end of the month."
Defending his decision to fire the employees, the Mayor stated that "They did not respect the terms of their contract in a way that could have endangered the physical safety of the children they were responsible for." The BBC reports that his decision to reinstate the employees was “to avoid increasing tensions”. A clause in the contract has been changed so that employees are no longer obliged to eat lunch.
“The terms of the instructors' contract was changed a few years ago after a child was seriously injured in a road accident while travelling in a vehicle driven by a female instructor who was not eating.
“Mr Bourgoin, a communist mayor, added he hoped a debate could be had over the matter in September.”
France has been noted for a raft of measures and proposals which have placed restrictions on Muslims practicing their faith and displaying religious symbols. As well as banning the hijab in all public buildings, France has banned face veiling in any public place. Legislation was also proposed last year to ban Muslims from praying on the streets in Paris and Muslims featured heavily in the French presidential elections earlier this year, with the far right National Front (NF), which made significant electoral gains, making halal meat a national campaign issue. Reports today on the defiling of a mosque with two pig heads as well as large amounts of spilt pigs blood on the floor of the entrance of the mosque are just the latest manifestations of anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.
Restrictions on religious liberty and their impeding the integration of French Muslims have been recently noted in the US State Department report on International Religious Freedom.
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