Muslim security guards at Paris airport fired ‘for their long beards’
TWO Muslim security guards claim a Paris airport sacked them for having long beards, even though they grew their hair for “hipster fashion” and not religion.
Le Parisien reports managers at Orly Airport asked several male staff members to trim their beards, in accordance with their strict grooming policy, because passengers were on edge after the November terror attacks in Paris.
Two of the workers said they refused to comply and filed discrimination complaints, only to be sacked two days later.
One of the men, 28-year-old Bachir, said colleagues had ridiculed his beard, with one supervisor “offering to bring in a lawnmower.”
He claimed his beard “was for fashion, in a hipster style ... and not for religion”, adding that some co-workers made disparaging comments about Islam.
Another worker, 34-year-old Bechir, said he was fired in June for being “medically unfit”, but he now believes it was because of his beard.
A spokesman for Swedish security company Securitas where the men worked said Bachir was fired for “serious breaches” of the company’s rules. His beard was “an additional, but not essential factor” in his dismissal, which was also related to a series of absences, lateness and too much “chattering”. The company has not commented on Bechir’s case.
The news comes after secure-zone clearance was withdrawn for nearly 70 people working at two Paris airports following the November 13 terror attacks.
So-called red badges are issued to people employed in the secure zone of Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, working for instance as baggage handlers, aircraft cleaners and suppliers.
Augustin de Romanet, chief executive officer of Aeroports de Paris, said the prefecture — the representative of the state — which issues the badges had carried out a screening after the attacks on Paris, in which 130 people were killed and 350 injured.
“Nearly 70 red badges were withdrawn after the attacks, mainly for cases of radicalisation,” he said in an interview with French media.
He said around 85,000 people had secure-zone clearance in the two airports, most of them working for airlines or for “several hundred” subcontractors.
“To be issued with a red badge, you have to be cleared by police, and if you work for a company that carries out security checks of in-flight luggage, you need three police checks,” De Romanet said.
He added that deployment of military personnel at the two airports had been boosted by half following the attacks, and passport officers were checking the IDs of all people leaving the country, “including flights in the Schengen zone,” the European Union’s border-free area.
Air traffic was down five per cent compared with a year earlier, de Romanet said.
“I hope we will return to a more normal level of traffic. It has been a heavy blow,” he added.