Archive for October 15th, 2006

Religious freedom – the good, the bad and the ugly

There are a number of stories in the news at the moment pertaining to religious freedoms, and how far they should be allowed to intersect with someone’s job.

Firstly, we have the story of Aishah Azmi, a 23 year old teaching assistant in West Yorkshire, who was asked to remove the veil she wears when doing her job. She’s a Muslim and believes that the Koran instructs women to ‘be modest’ in mixed company, so she dons the veil when there is the possibility of men being around. She also wears it when she’s teaching in class, which is where the problem arose, her employers had asked her to remove it when she is teaching English as it’s hardly the most effective educational technique to only show your eyes to your pupils. She refused, and kicked up a fuss about it.

However, when asked, she revealed that when then she was interviewed for the job, she was unveiled, even though there were, *shock*, men present!

The second case hitting the headlines is the case of a BAA worker who is on unpaid leave for not hiding her crucifix necklace while working, as it contravenes the company uniform policy. They specify that all religious paraphernalia should be hidden beneath the uniform, except Sikh turbans or Muslim hijabs since they plainly can’t be. There are plenty of people complaining of religious intolerance towards Christians while not enforcing such stringent rules for other faiths.

Interestingly, I think BAA are being a bit ridiculous, and the school are acting reasonably.

As much as I find the whole ‘invisible man in the sky’ idea utterly stupid, I don’t see a problem with some people showing off small representations of the gallows their founder didn’t die on (as I don’t believe Jesus as portrayed in the Bible actually ever existed); I may think it’s silly, but it’s not going to effect their job.

However the woman in the silk mask is directly interfering with her ability to do her job by hiding her face in case some man sees her and becomes inflamed by lust, or whatever other reason is used to subjugate women in the Koran.

It’s a matter of application – when dealing with people a crucifix or a turban or a hijab or a yarmulke doesn’t impact on their ability to do their job, but a veil?

So, BAA wrong, school right.

I should get a Darwin Fish pendant and wear it proud!

October 15th, 2006


October 2006

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