Home > Queensland Synod News > Archbishop in England calls on airline to think again on cross ban

Archbishop in England calls on airline to think again on cross ban

The Anglican Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has called on British Airways (BA) to reconsider its decision to refuse to allow Nadia Eweida, a check-in worker, to wear a necklace cross on the outside of her uniform.

The airline announced on 20 November that her appeal against the original instruction not to wear the cross at work had been rejected by senior management.

It said in a statement: "Personal jewellery, including crosses, may be worn – but underneath the uniform. The policy recognises that it is not practical for some religious symbols- such as turbans and [Islamic] hijabs to be worn underneath the uniform. This is purely a question of practicality. There is no discrimination between faiths whatsoever. We want Nadia to come back to work."

Sentamu, second in the Church of England hierarchy, said on 20 November: "This decision by British Airways is nonsense and is based on flawed reasoning. The basis for the decision should not be ‘practicality’ as BA suggests, but rather whether it impacts on Nadia’s ability to carry out her duties at the check in counter."

The Ugandan-born bishop noted that, "Under BA’s current reasoning, an employee who turned up to work wearing a three foot long cross must be allowed to wear it, because to hide such a cross under their uniform would be impractical. Yet in Nadia’s case, a cross less than three inches is deemed a problem."

He added: "British Airways needs to look again at this decision and to look at the history of the country it represents; whose culture, laws, heritage and tradition owes so much to the very same symbol it would ban."

Eweida, 55, who refused an alternative back room job, and chose not to accept suspension on pay until the matter was resolved, has the right to a second appeal and has told reporters that she is prepared to take her case all the way to the High Court.

Fellow employees have signed a petition backing her stand. Non-religious figures such as London’s Mayor, Ken Livingstone and the director of the pressure group Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, have voiced support for her

(c) Ecumenical News International