Around 2,000 women in Bosnia have protested a ban against wearing Islamic headscarves in courts and other legal institutions by marching for an hour through Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo, on the weekend. In October, Bosnia’s high judicial council, which supervises the functioning of the judiciary, decided to ban all “religious signs” in judicial institutions. The decision came into effect two weeks ago, prompting the protest. Lawyers, court officials, and others employed in the legal system will no longer be able to wear the hijab to work, and whether witnesses and other third parties taking part in hearings may wear the headscarf will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Muslims make up about 40 percent of Bosnia’s population, the rest being mostly Orthodox or Catholic Christians. The ban has been condemned by Muslim political and religious leaders, and protest organizer Samira Zunic Velagic called the ban a “serious attack against Muslim honor, personality, and identity,” adding that the ban is aimed at depriving Muslim women of their right to work. Hijab-wearing had been banned by communist authorities while Bosnia was part of the former Yugoslavia until 1992, when Bosnia declared its independence.
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