Couldn't they just have said, 'Hey, BA cross lady, have some milk,' and handed her drugged milk so that she woke up with her cross covered? My research shows that would work every week.
Anyway, I mentioned in 'Double standards, not in the Mail, surely?' that this case exposes the double standard the paper has concerning different religions - even as it tries to expose the double standards of others. I won't go over old ground too much, but all the arguments that the paper used against Shabina Begum wearing a jilbab earlier this year can apply just as easily to this case. But the Mail, and other papers that support Nadia Ewedia, decide to drop them in favour of 'freedom of religious expression' arguments they ignored before.
There was a bit of an outcry when Shabina Begum won her initial case. And then there were 'well done the judiciary' style comments when she lost an appeal. The contrast between these two cases is quite striking. Look at the first paragraph to 'Human rights, social wrongs', which comes after the initial case won by Begum:
Yet again, Britain is diminished by a destructive cocktail of human rights legislation, legal aid, lawyers living high on the hog and judges who seem bereft of common sense. Presumably, Britain won't be diminished if rules have to be changed in this case.And if Ms Ewedia is allowed to wear her cross openly, the people making the ruling won't be 'bereft of common sense'.
Another choice quote:
Shabina is of course entitled to her beliefs and could simply have transferred to another school where the jilbab is allowed. But no. Her fundamentalist supporters wanted a cause celebre instead. And how eagerly lawyers queued to give them one, at our expense.Now read the Mail's article from today. Notice how Shabina Begum was critiscised for not transferring to another school - but Ms Ewedia is not critiscised for refusing to take a back office job in the same company. No mention is made of lawyers queuing to take on the case if Ms Ewedia decides to go to court. Her supporters are not accused of wanting a cause celebre. In fact, the whole point of this article, and 'Christian students slam BA and campus 'fundamentalism'' is to trumpet about her fantasctic supporters.
That second article is curious. It says:
Christian student leaders have condemned the British Airways ban on workers wearing the cross as the same 'secular fundamentalism' that has targeted their own activities.If the BA are fundamentalist secularists, why do they allow their staff to wear turbans and headscarves?
Back to the original article, and we have:
UN human rights chiefs will raise the issue alongside death sentences for critics of Islam in Pakistan and forced conversions of Muslims to Buddhism in Burma at a conference in Prague.Now, it's hardly on a par, is it? Death sentences on the one hand, and having to wear a cravat on the other. If only I knew the seriousness of my plight when I was an usher at a wedding a couple of weeks ago. The high collar did chafe a bit actually. These people who get executed don't know they're born.
The article quotes direct parallels between Christianity and Islam:
[Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights] spokeswoman Kieran McCaffey said: "Britain is trapped in a multi-cultural mess of its own making. What’s provoking this situation is a hostility towards Christians and a fawning over Islam, which is rooted in fear."Notice how this quote places this case in the framework of claiming that Muslims get things Christians can't. But in two of the last three cases of women wearing Islamic dress hitting the headlines, two were told they weren't allowed to wear their religious dress, and all three were pilloried in the press.
I could quote whole chunks of the article, but I won't. There are more important things that are missing from it than the stuff that actually makes it in:
- No mention is made to Ms Ewedia being from a minority Christian sect. Much was made of Shabina Begum not thinking other forms of Islamic dress were adequate.
- No mention is made of the fact that she is allowed to wear a cross, although a number of references are made of a ban on wearing the cross.
- No mention is made of the offer of another job.
- No mention is made of the cross being disallowed under rules about visible jewellery. The article gives the impression that is has been 'banned' (which it hasn't) because it's a Christian symbol.
- None of the Mail articles (or any in other papers that I can see) mention the fact that British Airways is a multinational company, with employees having to face the public in a number of countries around the world. In such a company, banning turbans and headscarves would be out of the question. Imagine trying to prevent turbans and headscarves from being worn in India.
Remember the references to Shabina Begum being a 'little madam' and a showoff. Remember the massive emphasis on the possible costs of the Aisha Azmi case, and the spurious, badly backed up allegations of terrorist connections. Remember Shabnam Mughal being bullied by the press, and being blamed for starting the 'row' she was involved in. Remember that all three were accused of deliberately courting publicity and angling for compensation money, and all three were depicted as the cause of their own problems for refusing to remove their religious attire.
Nadia Ewedia gets two Daily Mail front pages supporting her in just a few days, and pledges from nearly 100 MPs. BA get threatened with boycotting.
Fawning favour over Islam? Who are you trying to kid?