Bosnia's Court Bans The Hijab

| by Michael Doherty
Women wearing the hijab.Women wearing the hijab.

Around 2,000 Bosnians marched through capital Sarajevo on Feb. 7 to protest the country's new judicial ban on the hijab, traditional headscarves worn by Muslim women.

The ban, which was ordered by the country's high judicial council, outlaws judges and other employees from wearing any religious symbol in a court or other legal institution, and specifically names the hijab in its wording, the BBC reports. The council, which oversees Bosnia's judicial institutions, made the decision in September and October of 2015, though the public only learned of the news in January, according to International Business Times.

Muslims make up about 40 percent of Bosnia's population of almost 4 million, with Orthodox and Roman Catholics making up most of the rest, according to the CIA World Factbook.

BBC also reports that Muslim religious and political leaders have spoken out against the ban.

Samira Zunic Velagic, a protest leader, told AFP that the protest was aimed at fighting discrimination and marginalization against Muslim women.

"The ban of wearing [the] hijab in judicial institutions is a serious attack against Muslim honor, personality and identity, a violation ... aimed at depriving them of their right to work," said Velagic.

AFP reports that the protesters, who were mostly women, held signs reading "Hijab is my daily choice," "Hijab is my right," and "Hijab is my life." The protest is reported to have lasted for an hour.

Elisa Hamovac, one of the protestors who wore a light blue hijab, told AFP her reason for protesting the ban was to defend her right to wear the scarf.

"We came here to say that we are not the victims of this scarf. We came to defend our rights," Hamovac said.

Bosnia formerly had a ban on the hijab when it was part of former Yugoslavia, until it became an independent country in 1992. According to IBT, Yugoslavia's communist government discouraged the practice of religion, and until Bosnia's independence, those who openly practiced their faiths risked losing their jobs or being detained by police.

Source: BBC, International Business Times, CIA World Factbook, AFP via Yahoo News / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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