What we are seeing in the 21st century is a series of forces come together to create the perfect storm. One of those forces is without doubt, the hollowing out of values as Western civilization becomes increasingly secularized. As a society, we pride ourselves to respect the religious freedoms of others, or at least, so we claim. On June 1. 2016, The Religious Affairs Correspondent, writing for “The Times” makes reference to the dismissal by security company G4S, of a Belgian based Muslim worker, who demanded the right to wear a headscarf to work. As a consequence to this case, the issue of discrimination in relation to the wearing of religious symbols in the work place, is now once again before the Court of Justice of the European Union. In the view of Advocate General Juliane Kokott, a ban on wearing religious symbols as part of general company policy, including a ban on headscarves, Turbans, and even the Kippah, would be, she claims, proportionate to achieving the overall legitimate aim of “neutrality” within the work place, and would therefore not constitute, direct, or indirect discrimination. At a time when there is sadly so much conflict in the world around us, when extremists are killing fellow human beings in the name of religion, we need now more than ever, to celebrate the dignity of difference, whether that difference is within the work place, or else-where.
To mark the significance of being part of a joint celebration between different faith groups, I was truly delighted and privileged to have been personally invited to participate in the recent launch event of the locally based East Anglican Friends of Israel, as well as the fortieth anniversary of the establish-ment of the Diocese of East Anglia within the Catholic movement. It is only through our continued commitment to mutual respect across all faiths, that we will ultimately ensure peace in the world around us.