Ezzaz Aziz and his offensive necklace
“The Netherlands is a democratic country. I think it’s nonsense that you can express one religion but not another. I feel a fire burning inside me because I don’t live in a democratic country, but in a third world country.” That’s what it has come to.
“Conductor banned from wearing crucifix necklace,” by Thijs PapÃ´t for Radio Netherlands, June 16 (thanks to C. Cantoni):
An Amsterdam appeal court has ruled that the Amsterdam public transport service is within its rights to ban its conductors from visibly wearing a necklace bearing a crucifix.
The verdict backs an earlier ruling at the end of last year. Egyptian-born tram conductor Ezzaz Aziz appealed against the decision after the transport service suspended him for refusing to take off or conceal his necklace during working hours.
Mr Aziz objected to the fact that he was forbidden to wear his religious symbol, while Muslim women were allowed to wear headscarves. Mr Aziz claimed he was a victim of discrimination because headscarves are also an expression of religious belief.
“The judge didn’t consider the equal treatment of two religions within one company – only whether the company rules applied. But that wasn’t my intention. In the company we have two religions, and one religion is allowed to do what it likes and the other isn’t allowed to do anything. That’s why I appealed against the ruling.”
The court ruled that the public transport service wasn’t guilty of discrimination because the rule wasn’t against wearing religious symbols, but simply against visibly wearing necklaces. For security reasons the service’s dress code bans employees from wearing any necklace outside the uniform.
The dress code allows the wearing of headscarves, as long as they bear the company logo. And the transport service points out that if Mr Aziz wants to express his religious belief, he’s welcome to wear a ring or an earring with a crucifix.
Nevertheless, Mr Aziz says he’s disappointed in Dutch justice. As a member of the Coptic Church, in Egypt he was barely able to express his religion. He expected things to be different in the Netherlands.
“The Netherlands is a democratic country. I think it’s nonsense that you can express one religion but not another. I feel a fire burning inside me because I don’t live in a democratic country, but in a third world country.”…