Judges have upheld France's ban on headscarves after a Muslim social worker was sacked because she refused to remove her covering.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday that the decision to fire Christiane Ebrahimian because she kept on her headscarf did not breach Article 9 - the right to freedom of religion - of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Ebrahimian was reportedly sacked from her job after patients complained that she refused to remove her headscarf.
She lost her appeal at the court on Thursday.
The court noted that wearing the veil was "considered by the authorities as an ostentatious manifestation of religion that was incompatible with the requirement of neutrality incumbent on public officials in discharging their functions".
Ebrahimian, a French national who lives in Paris, worked in the psychiatric department of Nanterre Hospital and Social Care Centre.
In May 2000, the Director of Human Resources sent Ebrahimian a letter explaining that the principle of the secular character of the State "prevented them from enjoying the right to manifest their religious beliefs while discharging their functions".
Seven months later Ebrahimian was told that her contract with the hospital would not be renewed because she refused to remove her covering following patient complaints.
After a number of subsequent appeals, she lodged a complaint with the ECHR in October 2011.
In 2004, France banned the wearing of "conspicuous" religious symbols. Last year, the ECHR upheld France's ban on Muslim women wearing the niqab.
Thursday's ruling follows a decision by Switzerland that the region of Ticino will enforce a ban on Muslim women wearing a burka or niqab.
Although other face coverings such as masks and balaclavas will still be allowed, if a woman wears one of these religious headscarves then they face a fine of up to £6,500.
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