Christian Woman Sues Boss Over Islamic Dress Code In Jordan

A Christian Jordanian woman said Sunday she is suing her Gulf Arab employer for arbitrary dismissal after she refused a new dress code forcing her to cover her head.
The incident is rare and could stir
religious tensions in Jordan, a
predominantly conservative Muslim
nation whose Western-educated ruler
— King Abdullah II — is perceived as a
staunch supporter of moderate Islam
and tolerance of other religions.
“We are not in Iran, we are in Jordan,
and we must continue to enjoy personal and religious freedoms as
stipulated by our constitution,” said
Vivian Salameh, 45, an assistant
manager of corporate operations at the Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank since March 2010 until she was fired a week ago.
“I’m Christian. Why should I wear
something not dictated by my religion?” she said in an interview.
Christians make up nearly 4 percent of
the country’s 6 million population.
Bank spokeswoman Eman Affaneh
confirmed that Salameh was fired
because “she refused to comply with
the terms of her contract, which stipulates that all employees must
respect management regulations and
bank bylaws.”
‘We are not in Iran, we are in Jordan, and we must continue to enjoy personal and religious freedoms as stipulated by our constitution,’ said Vivian Salameh, 45, who had worked at the bank since March 2010 until she was fired a week ago.
“We are an Islamic establishment and
the dress code is a reflection of our
conservative Muslim traditions and
values,” she said.
Salameh says she had worked for
Jordan’s Industrial Development Bank
for 25 years until it was acquired in
2010 by the Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank — an offshoot of the Dubai Islamic Bank based in the United Arab Emirates. In January 2011, the new management issued a new regulation stipulating a unified dress code for its workers, including waist-to-heel skirts and head covers for female employees.
Salameh accepted the uniform, but
refused to wear the head cover on
grounds that it violated her religious
beliefs and since the contract she
signed when she was hired did not
oblige her to a dress code.
Affaneh, the spokeswoman, said the
headcover “is a fashionable piece of
white cloth that shows the hair line —
like what women wear in the Gulf Arab
“It’s not a headscarf, covering all the
hair,” she added.
She and Salameh said that five other
Christian women employees at the bank accepted wearing the headcover.
When Salameh refused the headcover, “no action was taken against me for nearly 17 months until two weeks ago, when I was suddenly given two notices, five days apart, warning me that I will lose my job if I don’t wear the head cover,” she said.
“When I stuck by my decision, I was
verbally fired last Sunday,” she said,
adding that she filed a lawsuit against
the bank.
The next legal step would be for the
court to decide when it would hear the
Affaneh, the spokeswoman, says the bank has not been notified of the
“Her contract allows her to do what she wants,” she said. She declined to discuss the matter further.
Should a Christian woman in an Islamic country be forced to obey their religious laws? Please send your comments.



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