French hospital rejects trainee doctor due to ‘religious’ beard

A Paris hospital’s decision to reject an Egyptian trainee doctor because of his beard has been backed by a court, which agreed that patients might have seen it as a religious symbol.

Public hospitals, like other state institutions, must remain secular under France law, and staff are banned from wearing obvious religious symbols such as headscarves.

Nawel Gafsia, a lawyer acting for the doctor, named only as Mohamed A., argued unsuccessfully that the 2-inch beard did not necessarily indicate his religious practices. “My client could have been a hipster,” Ms Gafsia said.

However, the 35-year-old doctor himself “did not deny that his physical appearance was likely to indicate conspicuously a religious conviction,” according to a written judgement by the Versailles appeals court.

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