Press Conference

Religious Rights and Freedoms in France and Throughout the EU

Date: Wednesday 23 February 2005
Venue: Press Briefing Room - LOW - 1 N 201, European Parliament, Strasbourg
Time: 14.30hrs

Conservative MEP Philip Bushill-Matthews is co-author of a Written Declaration calling on the European Parliament to support religious rights and freedoms in France and throughout the EU, including the right to wear the Muslim hijab, Sikh turban, Jewish skullcap and Christian cross in schools.

Mr Bushill-Matthews said: "A year ago, I initiated a similar Written Declaration straight after the initial decision by the French Government to ban the hijab in schools. This has now evolved into a new cross-party Declaration, and I congratulate colleagues from other political parties for their efforts in raising the profile of this important issue.

It was the UK, some twenty years ago, that showed the way when the Conservative Government removed legislation discriminating against the Sikh community wearing turbans. This similar and basic liberty should be available to all throughout the EU. We should be aiming for more social inclusion of our different religious communities rather than seeking to alienate them. We hope this Declaration will draw widespread support from MEPs across all Member States and put pressure on France to respect Liberty, Equality and Fraternity for all!"

Mr Bushill-Matthews will be speaking at a press conference on religious rights and freedoms today, 23 February. He will be joining Caroline Lucas MEP (Greens), Sarah Ludford MEP (Liberal Democrats), Claude Moraes MEP (Labour) and French Green MEP Alain Lipietz.

For further information, contact the press office on +33 (0)388 17 4885


Photos provided by Photo European Parliament