Yvonne Ridley wins case against Islam Channel

Harry’s Place, a blog I read often but generally disagree with, posted this last week, about Yvonne Ridley winning a case for harassment, sex discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal against the Islam Channel. Since HP is currently on hiatus due to overshooting its data transfer allowance (as it seems to do for the last week or so of every month), I’m going to copy a whole load from the Google cache of it, because I agree wholeheartedly with it.

But before I do, I am going to add something which makes my blood boil about this case, which is that certain Muslim men, including some in authority, do not seem to realise that the prohibition of shaking hands with women outside their families applies to all women, not only Arab women, Pakistani women or women who obviously look like Muslim women. They would not dream of publically shaking hands with one of “their” women, so why on earth do they do it with a white woman (or a black woman, for that matter) who is well-known to have converted to Islam? It does not matter if you are suspicious of her motives or sincerity. If you feel you must shake hands with some women and one of them refuses because she is a Muslim and you couldn’t tell because she wasn’t in hijab, take it gracefully rather than getting offended. No, shaikhs and state muftis are not exempt.

I should add that, if you are a man and a woman offers to shake your hand, be polite about refusing and don’t snatch your hand away and mutter in an offended tone, “I do not shake hands with women”, because this can be really hurtful. Still, it would make things a lot easier for it to be as well-known that Muslims don’t do this as it is that we don’t eat pork or drink alcohol, and when Muslims in positions of authority break this rule and then publically humiliate those who try to keep it, it pushes this goal further away every time it happens.

The Harry’s Place excerpt is under the fold.

Here are the key points:

  • Yvonne Ridley was subjected to “rudeness, insulting behaviour and bullying” by Faisal Bodi, and the Islam Channel instituted an internal investigation. However, Bodi resigned from the Islam Channel before he could be disciplined.

  • Yvonne Ridley’s real problems started when she fell out with the CEO, Mohammed Ali Harrath, during a “Haj” trip to Saudi Arabia that they took together:

“The Claimant has set out in paragraph 20 of her witness statement specific items of disagreement thet were raised during the Haj period in Saudi Arabia. In respect of some of the views that Ms Ridley attributes to Mohammad Ali, he is very aggrieved at the way she characterises his opinions. We are in no position to make any findings on details of their arguments and they are not relevant. However, we find that the account given by the Claimant of political and to some extent religious disagreements in Saudi Arabia has not in itself been effectively challenged. Whatever views are attributed by her to Mohammed Ali, whether rightly or wrongly, we are led to the conclusion that their relationship seriously deteriorated at this time.

  • A key flashpoint was Yvonne Ridley’s refusal to shake the hand of a Saudi prince:

We turn to the matter that has been referred to as the ‘hand shaking incident.’ We are inclined to regard this as in itself a vety minor one, but it has come to assume much greater significance for the parties, to the point at which a Member of Parliament had to come to give evidence before us The finding we make is very straightforward, in that there is no dispute anywhere in the evidence that at a post-Hajj reception the Claimant declined to shake the hand of a Saudi Prince who was greeting a line of guests. The Claimant maintains that since her conversion to Islam she does not shake men’s hands and that, in this case, the Saudi Prince was no exception.

  • OFCOM decided to take action against the Islam Channel, over the role of RESPECT related presenters, and the breach of the channel over the legal requirement to ensure political impartiality. Yvonne Ridley was suspended. However, Abdulrahman Jafar - who had also been the subject of OFCOM criticism - was allowed to continue broadcasting.

  • Mohammed Ali then alleged that Yvonne Ridley was attempting to blackmail him. The Employment Tribunal disbelieved him. The substance of the allegation is this. A message appeared on the Islam Channel web forum which stated:

“I was told to look on the lnterpol website for Mohammed Ali Hahath the CEO of Islam Channel as a joke, but when I did he turns up wanted for terrorism! Wow what a shocker man? So Yvonne can’t be too extreme man no way? - laughable dudel”“

  • Mr Ali’s name does appear on an Interpol list, in connection with what he says are old allegations of involvement in “counterfeiting and possibly other offences.” He says that he is innocent. He also believes that Yvonne Ridley posted this message, pretending to be a 15 year old kid.

  • The dispute then spiralled out of control. Angry emails were exchanged. Yvonne Ridley told Mr Ali:

“I was pretty’ much disgusted with the behaviour of Muslim men. They are a sickly, cowardly lot with no backbone or honour and I know when I’m being used”

She also called on Mohammed Ali to sack an Islam Channel executive Carl Arrindel: “because of his crooked business record: it has been alleged before us that he had been disqualified as a director.”

  • Yvonne Ridley then wanted to speak at a Chechenya Day rally. However, she was stopped by Islam Channel executive, Salauddin Ali.

  • George Galloway then got involved. He asked Mohammed Ali whether Yvonne Ridley had been dismissed because she had refused to shake the hand of a Saudi prince. The reply was:

“No. Anyway she does shake men’s’ hands and even kisses them.”

Galloway believes that these allegation were “(a) false and (b) highly damaging to the Claimant’s reputation as an Islamic woman”

  • Mohammed Ali was also reported openly to have questioned whether Yvonne Ridley really was a Muslim.

  • At this point, Yvone Ridley instituted grievance proceedings against the Islam Channel, alleging sex and religious discrimination. She then left her job, and claimed constructive dismissal.

Congratulations to Yvonne Ridley.

She may be very wrong on a number of things: but nobody should be treated like this by their employer.

As a footnote, you will remember that the Islam Channel initially claimed that they had been forced to sack Yvonne Ridley by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

But of course!


If anybody is interested in seeing the Interpol Alert relating to Islam Channel CEO, Mohammed Ali Harrath, here it is

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