Muslim train driver loses religious discrimination claim

after suing security firm working for Heathrow Express that used fake bomb daubed with words ‘Allahu Akbar’ as part of training exercise

From the Daily Mail

Anis Ali, 36, launched a claim for compensation after he discovered that the fake suspicious package planted to test security procedures had the Arabic words for ‘Allah is Greater’ on it, an employment tribunal heard.

Mr Ali – who worked for Heathrow Express at the time – said that seeing the words of Islam connected to a simulated terror device ‘violated his dignity’ and created a ‘hostile environment’ for him.

However, the tribunal ruled he had not been discriminated against and it was unreasonable for him to take offence because ‘this phrase has been used in connection with terrorist attacks’. It ruled that in two other incidents he had been a victim of religious discrimination when colleagues complained about him wearing ‘a Sikh kara bracelet’.

The tribunal heard that in August 2017 staff for Redline Assured Security Limited – which has a contract with Heathrow Airport for security-related services – concealed a carrier bag at one of Heathrow Express’s stations as part of a test. This was open at the top, and contained a cardboard box and some electric cabling. At the top of the bag, so as to be visible on close inspection, was a piece of paper with the words ‘Allahu Akbar’ written in Arabic.

Mark Rutherford, operations director of Redline, told the tribunal: ‘The only purpose of the note is to ensure that the package looked obviously suspicious […] to reflect just one of the current threats that were present in the UK at the time.’ He added that Redline would also use English phrases in their fake suspicious packages, such as ‘Animal Testing must STOP now’ or ‘No Third Runway’.

Mr Ali, from Morden, south London, claimed that Redline had discriminated against him because of his religion by using the words Allahu Akbar in this context.

However, his claim was dismissed by employment judge Laurence Antsis, who ruled this was not directed at Mr Ali, saying: ‘Regrettably, this phrase has been used in connection with terrorist attacks.’ He added that it was ‘legitimate’ for Redline to reinforce the suspicious nature of its packages by ‘referring to known threats and matters connected with previous terrorist incidents’ and it was ‘not reasonable’ for Mr Ali to take offence.

Mr Ali, who now works for Great Western Railway, made two other claims of unlawful harassment related to his religion by colleagues at Heathrow Express and was successful in these.

In November 2016, a duty station manager called Davinder Hare complained to Heathrow Express about Mr Ali – known as Anis – wearing a Sikh kara bracelet despite being a Muslim. In March 2017, another Sikh colleague – a train driver called Narinder Rai – made similar remarks about why Mr Ali would wear a kara. 

 Davinder Hare claimed that Muslim men would wear a kara to attract and then rape Sikh girls. This is known to have happened in both the UK and India.  He emailed bosses and attached an article, which was extremely critical of the religion of Islam. 

The tribunal, held at Reading, Berkshire, ruled that Heathrow Express and Mr Hare would have to pay Mr Ali a total of £2,000 for ‘injury to feelings’ on grounds of religious discrimination for the first incident.

For the second incident, the tribunal ordered Heathrow Express and Mr Rai to pay combined £2,000 on the same grounds.

In November last year, Mr Ali was celebrated for his ‘selfless’ volunteer work during the coronavirus pandemic, completing 733 tasks for the NHS since March and donating more hours than any other volunteer in London. Other volunteers either couldn’t get the app to download as it was only compatible with certain devices (me) or found that tasks they were assigned had already been done by other volunteers (Mr Ali I presume) by the time they got to the address of the person needing help. There was a lot of goodwill wasted in the running of that scheme. But I digress. As an result, the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), which runs the programme with NHS England, nominated him to have his name appear in Oxford Street’s Christmas lighting display





2 Responses

  1. Sue, you have a point. That two separate Sikhs have been ordered to pay compensation for what I regard as valid criticism won’t go un-noticed.

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