Muslim hair stylist sues hairdresser over alleged discrimination

Friday, November 9, 2007 

British-born Muslim hair stylist Bushra Noah is currently undertaking legal action against the owner of a hair salon for alleged religious discrimination. Noah is suing London hair salon owner Sarah Desroiser. Desroiser who runs a salon in King’s Cross, has said that she would not accept Noah as a stylist if Noah’s hair was covered. Noah, like many devout Muslims keeps her hair covered in public places, believing it to be immodest otherwise.

Noah claims that her headscarf is a fundamental part of her religious beliefs and that wearing the scarf would not interfere in her carrying out the job at all. Desrosiers said that it is not discrimination but rather that “the essence of my line of work is the display of hair. To me, it’s absolutely basic that people should be able to see the stylist’s hair. It has nothing to do with religion. It is just unfortunate that for her covering her hair symbolises religion.” Desosiers added that she had worked with Muslims in the past and employs a Muslim accountant.

Noah claims that the state of her own hair is irrelevant to her ability to style others hair.

The last few years have seen a string of similar cases in Britain. Last year, there was a case over whether a British Airways employee could wear a prominent cross, and another case in which a teacher argued that she had a right to wear a Jilbāb (a traditional Islamic dress that covers almost the entire body) in the classroom. In that case, the teacher lost in the High Court.

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