Sunday, October 15, 2006


British Airways
Suspends
Christian Women
W/O Pay For
Wearing A Cross


Yes, and they did so even though their Muslim and Sikh employees are allowed to wear veils:


A committed Christian said today she planned to take legal action against her employers British Airways after the airline ruled that displaying her crucifix breached uniform rules.

Heathrow check-in worker Nadia Eweida was sent home after refusing to remove the crucifix which breached BA's dress code.

Her treatment by BA - which styles itself as the "world's favourite airline" - brought condemnation both from Christian groups and members of other faiths last night.

BA's chief executive Willie Walsh has upheld the action against Miss Eweida for failing to comply with "uniform regulations" despite himself coming under fire recently for failing to wear a tie.

Miss Eweida, who has an unblemished record during seven years at BA, is suing her employer for religious discrimination after being suspended from work without pay for two weeks.

The airline's uniform code states that staff must not wear visible jewellery or other 'adornments' while on duty without permission from management.

It makes exceptions for Muslim and Sikh minorities by allowing them to wear hijabs and turbans.

Under rules drawn up by BA's 'diversity team' and 'uniform committee', Sikh employees can even wear the traditional iron bangle - even though this would usually be classed as jewellery - while Muslim workers are also allowed prayer breaks during work time.

But Miss Eweida, 55, from Twickenham, insisted her cross, which is smaller than a ten pence piece, was not jewellery but an expression of her deep Christian faith.

She questioned why she was being forced to hide her religion when BA's Muslim and Sikh workers could express theirs.

Miss Eweida said last night: "I will not hide my belief in the Lord Jesus. British Airways permits Muslims to wear a headscarf, Sikhs to wear a turban and other faiths religious apparel.

"Only Christians are forbidden to express their faith. I am a loyal and conscientious employee of British Airways, but I stand up for the rights of all citizens."

Her case comes at a time of intense debate over the rights of individuals to express their belief - following Jack Straw's call for Muslim women to remove their veils.

Earlier this month it emerged BBC governors had agonised over whether newsreader Fiona Bruce should wear a small cross on a chain around her neck while on air in case it might cause offence by suggesting a religious affiliation.

Miss Eweida, a Coptic Christian whose father is Egyptian and mother English, was ordered to remove her cross or hide it beneath a company cravat by a duty manager at Heathrow's Terminal 4 last month.

Miss Eweida said: "BA refuses to recognise the wearing of a cross as a manifestation of the Christian faith, but rather defines it as a piece of decorative jewellery.

The airline has come under fire in the past for its adherence to political correctness.

A decade ago it attempted to ditch its traditional Union Flag tailfin in favour of an ethnic design - which provoked the anger of Baroness Thatcher.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, international director of the Christian charity the Barnabas Fund, said: "Discrimination against Christians is commonplace in Muslim-majority contexts, such as Egypt where Nadia's family roots are. "Now we see the same thing increasingly happening within the UK.


In Muslim countries Christians and Jews are given what is known as "Dhimmi" status. They pay special taxes (for protection) and limited rights in a court of law. Apparently, Britain has adopted such Dhimmi status for Christians already.