More Fuss

Following on from yesterday’s comments, another hot item currently in the news is the statement by the Prime Munster of this fair land, Tony Bliar esq, that the full veil worn by some ladies of the Muslim faith are “a mark of separation”.

Well of course they are: The Muslim veil is a mark of separation, although I prefer the term “distinction”. The Sikh turban is a mark of separation too, as are the Jewish yarmulke, the Buddhist prayer scarf and the cross that I and other Christians wear. They say “I am different to others: Not better or worse, higher or lower, but different. I have chosen a path for my life and this sign expresses that choice”. Choosing to mark yourself with a symbol of your faith isn’t a bad thing – and in any case it’s human nature to want to be part of an identifiable group in some way. Whether religious, social, national, professional or sporting, we all in some way consider ourselves to be part of a particular group, and most of us carry some outward marking of that group. Consider footie fans wearing their team’s shirt; people of Celtic origin wearing their clan tartan; members of various organisations and their car stickers and badges.

Of course there are “concerns” that the full veil is demeaning to women – although I’ve not found any veil-wearing women who consider themselves demeaned by it. The row has further been inflamed by British Airways check-in worker Nadia Eweida, a Christian who is currently on unpaid leave following her refusal to remove or conceal her cross: according to the BBC news story BA has a uniform policy which states that “all jewellery and religious symbols on chains must be worn under the uniform” – although they make an exemption for turbans and hijabs, which obviously cannot be covered. Miss Eweida is suing British Airways under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 – it looks like an interesting case. On the face of it it does look as though BA are treating Christians less favourably than employees of other faiths, although there may well be factors we don’t yet know about. For example, Miss Eweida has worked for BA for seven years, why has this only just cropped up? Long term readers of this blog will remember the case of Sam Morris, a pupil at a Derby school, who complained loud and long about being refused the right to display her faith in the form of a cross on a chain. Further research – which as far as I know only ever appeared in the public domain on this blog – revealed that she had never attended her school’s Christian Union, was unable to name the church she attended, had only bought the cross a few weeks previously, and had been offered the chance to wear other symbols of her faith: Only the long chain on which she wore her cross was banned.

I don’t want to cast aspersions on Nadia Eweida, and I’m in no doubt that Christians need to stand up and be counted: I’d just like to know a little more before I jump on the anti-BA bandwagon on this one.

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