May 28, 2012

Religious Tensions in Jordan? Really?!

Filed under: Arab Societies,Jordan,Religion,Women — Eman @ 2:06 pm

Religious tensions in Jordan as a “Christian Jordanian sues her Muslim employer“… this is what’s on the news these days! Jordanians being split into 2 groups: Muslims and Christians, questions of religious discrimination within the nation… really that’s what it has come to?

While everyone knows I’m 100% against anyone being forced to do something against their own beliefs and principles, I also believe in the freedom of choice.
All over the world, at least the modern, free world that Jordanians always work hard so that their nation is one of, the rule is plain and simple: new management, new rules; take it, or leave it. A new dress code is represented, it being an Islamic bank, it’s no shock that the dress code would be as modest as the name suggests, and the non-Muslim employee was not forced to wear an actual Hijab, she was just asked to wear a scarf over her head to be as close as possible to the uniform. This kind of thing happens EVERYWHERE. I myself have worked with NGOs where any expression of any religious symbol was out of question, therefore, if a fellow Muslim woman decided to wear Hijab, the foundation simply forced her to resign, or, if she refused, she got fired. And I also worked with companies where every single religious symbol imaginable was permitted, but once the management decided to change rules for one reason or the other, the employees had to either take it or leave it.

If I, a Muslim woman, chose to work in an Orthodox club in Amman, and the manager had no problem with my religion and hired me, then one day he changes his mind and tells me: listen from now on, everyone has to wear our new uniform, and it has the hugest Cross embroidered on it, then, as a Muslim woman, I have one of 2 options: either take it or leave it. It’s as simple as that! Although it’s just an entertainment center for activities, the club is called Orthodox, therefore it reflects the spirit of an Orthodox church in its system, and I have to make the choice of where I wish to work. I would not go sue anyone for that, unless the entity, whether a company or a foundation had no religious significance.

Many of my Jordanian  friends are still being deprived the right to work in non-religiously oriented workplaces because they wear Hijab, although, Muslims are a majority in Jordan, simply because the management doesn’t like to hire Hijabis. Many of my Muslim friends were instantly fired for deciding to wear Hijab after they’ve been hired in non-religious workplaces. Many of my Muslim friends were asked to either take off their Hijab, or resign, or else get fired, because the new management does not like Hijabis. No one sued.
I never saw any Jordanian lady sue her employer for asking her to wear short skirts, or tight dresses either. As long as the workplace represents a certain religious stream, whether Christian, or Muslim, or any thing else, then the employee, regardless of their own religion views should respect that, and be professional at their job. Just like the fact that if the employee is working in a public entity, or a workplace that doesn’t relate to any religious stream, then this employee has the right to sue if the management decides to force her/him to follow, or unfollow certain religious views.

In many countries, local clothing is obligatory in government workplaces and positions, such as the UAE for example, so even expats and non-Muslim women would have to wear the national Emarati costume which is basically a headscarf and a long abaya. I saw no one sue anyone for that!
And to those who are “fearing” that this incident means Jordan has become extreme such as Iran, Afghanistan or elsewhere, please stop falling for these silly claims, even Muslims Jordanian ladies are not forced to wear hijab anywhere that has no religious significance.

My point is: if a work place is related to any religious stream or system, then the employees should be expecting a change in dress code at any time, and respect that, and choose to accept it and go on, or refuse it and leave. It’s so unprofessional, and immature to turn this into a religious discrimination argument!

Jordanians have been one hand since as long as I could remember, some of my best friends ever are Christians, we lived in harmony, celebrated everything together, and never ever let anything come between us. It saddens me a lot, that today, in 2012, instead of going forward, some are falling for the religious discrimination scam, and are allowing others to portray us as enemies, who do not respect each others’ beliefs.

“Christian Jordanian woman sues her Muslim employer”… is that the kind of headline that we want to read about our nation? really? is that how we want to be referred to?  I don’t know about you, but I perfectly know that I don’t.

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