Jordanian Christian Sacked Over Dress-Code Sues Muslim Employer

A Christian woman, who was sacked for not covering her head as part of a new mandatory dress-code for all employees, has filed a lawsuit against her Gulf Arab employer in Jordan.

"We are not in Iran, we are in Jordan and we must continue to enjoy personal and religious freedoms as stipulated by our constitution," The Associated Press quoted Vivian Salameh, 45, as saying.

Salameh, an assistant manager of corporate operations at the Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank since March 2010, was sacked earlier this month. "I'm Christian. Why should I wear something not dictated by my religion," she said.

However, bank's spokeswoman Eman Affaneh thinks the demand for compliance to the dress-code was not unfair. "She refused to comply with the terms of her contract, which stipulates that all employees must respect management regulations and bank bylaws," she was quoted as saying. "We are an Islamic establishment and the dress code is a reflection of our conservative Muslim traditions and values."

The code, which requires all women employees to wear waist-to-heel skirts and head covers, was imposed last January. Affaneh said the head cover is "a fashionable piece of white cloth that shows the hair line - like what women wear in the Gulf Arab countries. It's not a headscarf, covering all the hair."

The former Christian employee had worked for Jordan's Industrial Development Bank for 25 years until it was acquired in 2010 by the Muslim bank, which is an offshoot of the Dubai Islamic Bank based in the United Arab Emirates.

The court is yet to decide the date for the first hearing. The bank management gave Salameh two notices recently and finally fired her verbally May 20.

About 4 percent of Jordan's 6 million people are Christian. Jordan, with predominantly Sunni population, is a religious and conservative country, but its ruler, King Abdullah II, is seen as a moderate Muslim and tolerant of other faiths.

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