‘I don’t have one because policy won’t let me work with a beard,’ might be the answer of the future. Shahid Saleem from Croydon was employed by the Vodafone store in Sutton. On his first day at work, he was told he was not allowed to work as he had a beard, under the guise of supposedly violating the work dress policy. He requested to see the official dress policy, but for some bizarre reason, he was refused and sent home.
His comments reflect the trauma he faced because of this ordeal: “Throughout the whole time [the store manager] was talking to me, he spoke to me condescendingly in public in front of a Vodafone employee, which completely demoralised and upset me as well as causing me distress.” He added, ”He did not mention anything at all about my clothes; he only stated that he did not want me working with him if I had a beard.”
Apparently, Mr Saleem’s appearance was “rather scruffy and not business appropriate” and for some reason they had a fascination with his beard. Furthermore, Vodafone admitted that their dress code has no mention of beards, but only that their employees have a “professional appearance”.
Indeed we are glad to know the case has been resolved. However, just imagine if the conclusion was a negative one. In this day and age, where there is a lot of blatant Islamophobia, there are unfortunately a lot of cases, where unlike this one, they end badly and turn sour. It is a lesson for those people who highlight how important the beard is, that they understand the beard is not the be all and end all of Islam. Political action is more important and because without it, Muslim men may not even be allowed to keep beards and Muslim women banned from wearing the hijab. Just look at France’s relationship with hijabi women now and look at Tunisia under Ben Ali’s dictatorship, where beards were banned. It is wonderful that MP Malcolm Wicks commented on the issue. Just imagine if there was a Zionist Islamophobe in place?
This is just one case that highlights the obligations of defending the right to practice Islam coming before any Islamic ritual.
(www.mpacuk.org / 08.04.2012)