The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will determine on Tuesday whether an employer can prohibit staff from wearing the Islamic headscarf in the first case of its kind before the EU's top court.

The ECJ will rule on the cases of two female employees in Belgium and in France, who were dismissed for refusing to remove their headscarves, a day before a Dutch parliamentary election dominated by the issue of immigration and integration.

The Islamic headscarf is a contentious issue in several European countries, notably France, which attaches importance to the separation of state and religious institutions and where the anti-immigration far-right National Front party is seen performing strongly in an election this spring.

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