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  • Dutch court rules against a Muslim man for refusing to shave beard for a job.

    Dutch court rules against a Muslim man for refusing to shave beard for a job. | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 February 2019

A court in the Netherlands ruled against a Muslim citizen for refusing to shave his beard for a job. It also suspended his benefits for a month. 

A court in the Netherlands ruled against a Muslim man whose benefits were suspended for refusing to shave his beard on religious grounds.

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The man, whose name is not revealed, was offered a job as an asbestos removal officer and told to shave off his beard in order to undergo the training course. After his refusal to do so citing religious reasons, Amersfoort city council suspended payments to him and his wife for a month which they were receiving under Participatiewet, a program which provided a minimum income to every legal resident in the Netherlands.

He challenged the decision at the court of central Netherlands on the grounds of violation of article nine of the European convention on human rights which protects the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

However, the council said not shaving beard was a danger as asbestos particles could end up in his beard with a potential to harm his health. The respiratory mask he would need to wear will also become less effective due to facial hair.

The council lawyers concluded that they needed to act as it was “deemed necessary in the interest of the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”

When the man said he was ready to wear an alternative mask that goes with his beard and also available on market, the court concluded that the training required the specific mask.

The court’s appeal board said that the rule was “unmistakably an infringement of [the man’s] right to religious freedom” but tolerable as the society and law requires it.

“The provision offered … did not involve any internship or training, but was provided with a job guarantee”, the court said. “For the appellant, the training was, therefore, an excellent, concrete chance for regular work … Due to the refusal to participate in the training, the appellant did not make use of the guaranteed opportunity to gain access to the labor market. As a result, he put undue pressure on the public funds to the detriment of those who, in solidarity, bear the costs of the provisions in the Participatiewet.”

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