Four Muslim baggage handlers are appealing against a decision to bar them from working at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
They say that the local government’s decision to revoke their security passes is evidence of anti-Muslim discrimination. A local government spokesman says the decision was based on an assessment of the terrorist risk. He denied the move was linked to the men’s religion.
Lawyers acting for the four men say that dozens of other Muslims who work at the airport have also been stripped of their security passes, leaving them unable to work.
The four men, who are of North African origin, say they were summoned by security officials for interviews concerning their employment in August. A few days later they were told that their airport passes, which gave them access to the area near runways, were being withdrawn.
A lawyer acting for the men said the baggage handlers were told they had been barred because they had “not shown that their behaviour was unlikely to violate airport security”.
As well as appealing against the local authority’s decision, the baggage handlers’ lawyers have submitted a criminal complaint for alleged discrimination against the men on the grounds that they are Muslims.
The head of a local government office, Jacques Lebrot, said the ban had nothing to do with religion. “For us, someone who goes on holiday to Pakistan several times raises questions,” he told Reuters News Agency. Mr Lebrot added that the local authority investigation looked for those who could “compromise airport security”.
A book published by a far-right politician four months before the security clampdown raised questions about France’s airport security. Philippe de Villiers’ book alleged that Islamic radicals worked at Charles de Gaulle airport and were planning terror attacks.