British Midland Airways Limited, known as BMI, has taken two steps toward Islamization recently that should set off alarm bells.
It fired Lisa Ashton, 37, a stewardess, in April 2008 because she refused two directives concerning her time in Saudi Arabia: in public areas there she must wear the abaya, the black robe that covers everything but the face, feet, and hands; and she must follow behind her male colleagues. When Ashton turned down flights to Saudi Arabia, claiming discrimination, BMI dismissed her. Ashton brought suit against BMI. Describing her case, she said that "It's not the law that you have to walk behind men in Saudi Arabia, or that you have to wear an abaya, and I'm not going to be treated as a second-class citizen. It's outrageous. I'm a proud Englishwoman and I don't want these restrictions placed on myself." Ashton lost the first round when an employment tribunal ruled that BMI was justified in imposing "rules of a different culture" on its staff and cleared the company of sexual discrimination. Ashton may seek a judicial review of the decision.
The digital map on BMI writes Haifa as "Khefa" and does not name Israel.
Comment: These two incidents vividly demonstrate how close commercial ties to the Muslim world, and especially Saudi Arabia, often involve cultural and political influence. Whether BMI or BMED, Western corporations in general need to work especially hard to maintain their integrity when encountering this pressure. (April 30, 2009)