Exhibit addresses religious clothing ban

.- A new multimedia exhibit seeks to explore and encourage discussion on the issue of state-sanctioned bans of religious clothing and symbols. “Body of Belief” features a collection of banned religious clothing and other distinctive symbols, and it includes museum-like holdings of artifacts and photographs of individuals wearing those artifacts.

The exhibit, organized by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, will be unveiled March 23 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva, Switzerland, from 6:30 p.m. to 8. It is part of the Becket Fund's work at the 61st Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

Special guests at the exhibit will include individuals who have been fired, discriminated against, punished and ostracized for wearing religious symbols.

The most well known case is that of former Member of the Turkish Parliament Merve Kavakci, who was stripped of her citizenship for wearing the Islamic hijab to her first parliamentary meeting. Both she and secular Turkish women, who supported her expression of religious belief, have been accused of crimes in Turkey. 

States around the world ban different types of religious clothing and distinctive religious symbols. France made headlines this past year for its well-known laïcité laws, which ban "ostensible" religious symbols in public schools and buildings. Other totalitarian states have punitive bans.

The Becket Fund points out that these bans violate Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international laws.

The traveling exhibit’s next stop is May 12 at the Metropolitan Club in New York.

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